One of the biggest stories of the Dodgers 2019 Spring Training has been the health of Clayton Kershaw. After an off-season of working on gaining some velocity, Kershaw has run into some shoulder issues that has caused some anxiousness among the team and the fans. On February 19, Dave Roberts announced that Kershaw would be the Opening Day starter for the 9th straight year. However, those plans are in jeopardy as CK soon started having his health issues.
Now, the big questions for the Dodgers start to creep in regarding Kershaw. How hurt is he? Will he be ready for Opening Day? Will he ever get back to being great? Can he contribute in 2019? Dodgers Nation asked the question about slowing him down:
Should the Dodgers just shut down Clayton Kershaw for a couple weeks and let him get better for ALL OF THE GAMES besides Opening Day?
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) March 5, 2019
The Velocity Drop
According to Baseball Savant, Kershaw’s fastball dropped from an average of 92.8 MPH in 2017 to 90.8 MPH in 2018. How many times did we see him pitching at 88-89 MPH at some points in 2018? Amazingly, he still had a very good 2018 season, but not quite up to his standards. He spent time in the off-season trying to get some of that velocity back and the jury is out on whether he has recovered any of it.
To be honest, I could care less about who starts on Opening Day. And according to our poll, most fans don’t want Kershaw to rush back. Since they seem to be slow-rolling Walker Buehler as well, we could have Hyun-Jin Ryu or Rich Hill start on Opening Day. For either, it would probably be a great honor for them and the Dodgers will be just fine. I know Kershaw enjoys the honor of being the Opening Day starting pitcher, but that cannot be the goal as it is a long season and post-season.
Managing Kershaw’s Health
Like many athletes who are extremely competitive, Kershaw hates to not be on the field. He is a fantastic competitor and works as hard as anybody. Sometimes, athletes like that need to be managed as they need to be saved from themselves. None of us know what is truly wrong with Kershaw and he seems to be “trending up” according to Dave Roberts. The fans, according to our poll, want to see him take it easy and to be ready to contribute for the whole season. Let’s hope the doctors and trainers get their way in managing Kershaw.
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What If Kershaw Isn’t Ready
For the moment, the four other Dodgers in the rotation are Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda. Backing them up are Ross Stripling, Julio Urías, Dennis Santana, Caleb Ferguson and Brock Stewart. There is enough depth to absorb being without Kershaw for a while. I don’t see a need to panic, but if you recall, the Dodgers lost most of their starting pitching staff by May in 2018. Pitchers are extremely volatile and it will be interesting to watch whether Kershaw is ready or not.
In my book, Clayton Kershaw is an all-time great pitcher and a future Hall of Famer. I am glad he signed a three-year contract with the Dodgers and I hope he retires in LA. Most importantly, I want to see him come back and lead the Dodgers to a World Series victory. It is a long season and there will be injuries, surprises and roster moves that will make us all forget how the beginning of the season looked. Somehow, Clayton Kershaw will be a major factor in the success of the 2019 season. His final impact will probably be measured in ensuring he doesn’t rush things as he prepares for the season and deals with his health issues. Maybe he even finds some of the lost velocity by coming back in a healthy manner.
What are your thoughts regarding Clayton Kershaw and what you expect of him? Use the comment section below.
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