Can Clayton Kershaw Help Rescue an Under-Performing Starting Rotation?

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(Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

As the Dodgers try to fight themselves out of their current five-game losing streak, it’s hard to say exactly what it might take to get back in the winning column. It could be an offensive explosion, or it may be a stellar start from a member of their starting rotation. Or, it might even take a flawless multi-inning effort from a highly-criticized bullpen.

Maybe Los Angeles will need all three of the above to secure a victory.

Heading into Saturday evening’s game against the Brewers, lefty Caleb Ferguson gets the start after many fans guessed the team would dip down into the minor league ranks to fill a rotation slot, mainly because the bullpen has been overused greatly recently. Regardless, one might guess that Ferguson will go four innings at the most. It could be one of those nights when all aspects of the team need to be clicking on all cylinders to grind out a win.

The Dodgers will be in a similar situation on Sunday when Ross Stripling takes the bump in the series finale. Stripling is certainly stretched out a bit more than Ferguson, but the thin air in a day game at Dodger Stadium always has a propensity to carry the baseball into the seats, resulting in a potential slugfest.

Nevertheless, one of the most intriguing junctures of the season will come on Monday when ace Clayton Kershaw makes his first start of the year against the Reds.

Kershaw, whose shoulder problems began surfacing in early spring training, has been fairly effective during both of his minor league rehab starts. Altogether, Kersh yielded four runs on nine hits and a pair of walks with 12 strikeouts over 10-1/3 innings for Triple-A OKC and Double-A Tulsa.

Most of the reports from those games had Kershaw’s four-seam sitting in the 88-90 range, with his fastest speed topping out at 92. While he’s been criticized for his lack of velocity in recent years, it’s hard to say if he was focusing on one specific aspect of his delivery during these rehab outings or if he was indeed letting the ball fly 100%.

Some fans feel that Kershaw’s return to the rotation could provide a spark of mental adrenaline and get the team back on track. However, after going 8-2 during their first 10 games of the year, it isn’t hard to see that the main reason for the squad’s early success was because of the poor quality of play by the opposition. Both the Diamondbacks and Giants have losing records, and the Rockies, who the Dodgers swept last weekend in Denver, are sitting at the bottom of the NL West with a 3-11 mark.

Whatever the case may be, Los Angeles may be closer to full firepower, as Rich Hill is near a rehab start and Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s groin injury isn’t as bad as some folks initially perceived. If right-handers Walker Buehler and Kenta Maeda can throw anywhere near their potential, the rotation certainly has the capability to be among the best in the National League.

Looking ahead to the next few weeks, the Dodgers will have 12 games to develop a strategy against their counterparts in the NL Central. The Reds are in town for three games, followed by a quick road trip with stops in Milwaukee and Chicago. Heading into the final days of April,, the Dodgers will come back home for a three-game set against the Pirates before dipping back into a stretch against NL West opposition on the road

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13 thoughts on “Can Clayton Kershaw Help Rescue an Under-Performing Starting Rotation?

  1. I’ll answer the question.

    Kershaw is not good enough to rescue, or carry the pitching, but he can lead them. Just having him there might lift them a bit. It’s important that he go 5 and keep the team from getting too far behind. Personally I think it’s going to take him a few starts to get back into a groove.

    There is plenty of time. On May 15th last year we were 16-25 and 8.5 games out. It worked out ok. Have faith. This is a good team.

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  2. Welcome home world traveler Connor Joe. Tabbed in the Rule 5 draft by the Reds, put on waivers and claimed by the Giants, put on waivers by the Giants and unclaimed, therefore once again property of the Dodgers. I assume he’ll be put on the OKC roster. He won’t need to be included on the 40-man (unless he’s brought up to the big club).

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  3. Kimbrel has lowered his contract demand to what Zach Britton received (3/$39). The Dodgers are complete idiots if they aren’t jumping on this. I know most of it is because they don’t want to hurt Kenley’s feelings bringing on an arguably superior closer but I honestly don’t care. He’s getting paid enough that his feelings are irrelevant and 30+ years without a championship is unacceptable. Besides adding a top ace like Sherzer or DeGrom I can’t think of a more impactful move the team could make right now to make the team better. The bullpen would go from weakness to strength in an instant with Ferguson, Kimbrel and Kenley in the back end.

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    1. The info I saw said Kimbrel was now somewhere between 3/39 and 3/50, so let’s just call it 3/45. If we signed him and he pitched the way he did in 2017 it would be the best signing in baseball history. If he pitched the way he did toward the end of last year and in most of the playoffs, it would be another Kelly signing but at twice the price. Might very well be worth a role of the dice but with the understanding that both Kimbrel and Kenley would be used in various situations, either to close games or in very high leverage situations before the 9th inning. I’m thinking they might both be OK with that. If Kenley wasn’t, he has on opt out after this season. A Kimbrel signing might, however, severely limit AF’s ability to bring in a big name in July (starter, position player, whatever).

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      1. Kimbrel was better after Eric Gagne told him he was tipping his pitches. It’s worth the gamble if you aske me. I would rather have him for an entire season than not sign him because you may want to add a rental player for the last two months.

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      2. I can certainly see your viewpoint, although you wouldn’t have him for an entire season since it would take him awhile to get ready, even if you signed him today. That said, he would be here way before the end of July.

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  4. Spinwash Garcia with a clean inning.

    What an ugly box score through 8. We keep them under 5 and score 1? That sucks. Schultz shouldn’t be in the game. Jansen should be.

    We signed Kelly, which tells me there will be no Kimbrel. We may have to dip deeper into the system. Sborz maybe. Qbush. McAllister. Broussard. This is why those guys are there. And is there ANYONE in the system that can complete 6 innings?

    We’ll get through this.

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