Clayton Kershaw returned to the scene of the crime Wednesday night. The last time he took the mound at Chase Field was May 17 when he uncharacteristically allowed seven runs in just 1.2 innings.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were soundly defeated by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kershaw’s record dropped to 2-1 on the season and his ERA ballooned to 4.43. Kershaw’s return to the desert wasn’t his best effort, though he still went eight innings and struck out 10 to earn an MLB-best 16th win.
Following the win, Kershaw didn’t offer much when asked if he had his May outing in mind and classified his performance Wednesday as a “bad start.”
While Kershaw opted not to reflect, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt touched on the subject, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
People forget that he goes through Spring Training, gets hurt in Australia and gets shut down for five weeks,” Honeycutt said. “That [May 17] was only his third start back. It’s like Spring Training again and you might just have a bad start at any point of Spring Training. I’m not saying he wasn’t good enough to make that start, but he really wasn’t him yet.
Honeycutt also compared Kershaw’s mechanics as he worked his way back into a rhythm to what was seen from the southpaw in the fateful second inning back in May:
Soon after that you saw the arm speed and arm slot more consistent. In that game, he still wasn’t where he needed to be. So, in my mind, it was just a bad inning.”
Kershaw suffered another loss May 28, then ripped off an 11-game winning streak in his next 13 starts with a no-hitter mixed in. Since the streak was snapped (in a complete-game nonetheless), the reigning NL Cy Young award winner has bounced back with consecutive eight-inning outings that each resulted in a win.
Kershaw’s dominance has been on full display dating back to June, evident by his 1.73 ERA and 0.84 WHIP, which both lead the Majors. As the starting rotation has faced challenges in recent weeks, Kershaw has been there to answer the bell for the Dodgers essentially every time they’ve needed him to.
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