Clayton Kershaw Begins 2020 Spring Training Full of Optimism

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(Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in a few years, Clayton Kershaw has entered spring camp with a full head of steam.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com recently pointed out that spring training last year was borderline dreadful for the lefty starter, as he was dealing with a shoulder issue that eventually kept him on the shelf for the first three weeks of the regular season.

In 2017, it was a bad back that bogged Kersh down early—an injury that would resurface in 2018, causing the three-time Cy Young winner to spend time on the DL for 23 of the team’s games that summer.

Some fans actually believed it was that same back injury that seemingly put his career on a downward path.

Despite all that, the 2020 season appears to be following a different narrative—at least for now.

“I feel a lot better,” Kershaw told Gurnick on Sunday. “It’s fun. It feels good. Throughout the course of the season I felt pretty good, but to have a truly healthy offseason, I think I knew what to do a little better.”

Perhaps the biggest difference could be the fact that Kersh was able to keep his arm relatively loose all winter long.

“I did do something different this offseason,” Kershaw said. “I never really did stop throwing. I took a week off, then played catch twice or three times a week leading into the actual throwing program. It’s the first year I’ve done that. We’ll see if it pays off.”

Aside from his health, the fact that Los Angeles dramatically improved the team’s player roster may be another reason why Kershaw has entered camp with so much optimism and enthusiasm.

“That’s the beauty of being on this team,” Kershaw said to Gurnick. “We added Mookie Betts, we added David Price. Walker Buehler continues to get better. Julio Urias is going to have the reins taken off. We signed Alex Wood back. Jimmy Nelson looks good, Ross Stripling looks really good. We’ve got a lot of guys. Dustin May’s going to get better, Tony Gonsolin’s going to get better. There’s just so many. It’s just the signs of a good team.”

According to depth-chart models from several outlets, the front three of the Los Angeles rotation right now might consist of Buehler, Kershaw and Price, alongside two of either Urias, Wood, Nelson, May, Gonsolin or Stripling as the fourth and fifth starters.

With that particular grouping, it gives the team nine legitimate starters from which to build a front five and strategically work the injured list when somebody needs a break. Plus, there’s always the possibility of a front-line acquisition before the summer trade deadline at the end of July.

As far as the regular season goes, the projections by many outlets still have Kersh producing All-Star caliber numbers for the upcoming campaign. According to the Steamer figures on Fangraphs, CK will post a 14-9 record with a 3.55 ERA, a 3.68 FIP and a 4.4 fWAR over 32 appearances and 202 innings pitched.

Coincidentally, Baseball Reference has Kershaw tallying a 12-6 record with a 3.24 ERA over 164 innings of work.

 

16 thoughts on “Clayton Kershaw Begins 2020 Spring Training Full of Optimism

  1. 32 appearances? Unless you’re counting post season, definitely not. If it were me, I’d take the Kawhi approach. Load management. For ALL our starters. 1 start a week through July and August, or a trip to the IL. Maybe both. Pitch counts on everybody. 100 max. It’s a long season. We’ve got the depth to get this done. This team is going to score a lot of runs. I want Kershaw, Buehler and Price to be well rested and peaking in October.

    https://www.fantasypros.com/mlb/projections/clayton-kershaw.php

    I’ll go with ATC Fangraphs numbers. 27 starts, 168 innings, 1.14 WHIP

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  2. Something up maybe? Dodgers outrighted Mitchell White to OKC. That kind of thing usually does not happen this early in spring. Maybe he is hurt? Don’t know, but I did not see an explanation.

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    1. Forget it….it is a misprint on ESPN’s transaction page…it should read Tyler White…my bad…did not mean to give you all a heart attack…..Manfred made a lame apology today about his comments.

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  3. Pretty quiet on the baseball front so far. Some minor signings. Still some vitriol aimed at Manfred. Johnathan Lucroy is signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox. Puig still a free agent…

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    1. More than what? 32 games and 202 innings? Through to November maybe. If he throws over 200 innings before October I will have concerns going into the playoffs. Despite what we read, he is damaged goods and not the horse he used to be.

      I think the shlemmings should take a victory lap. Friedman came through with a big deal.

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  4. I don’t think Kersh will pitch that many innings but I’ll bet his era will in the 3.00 range during the regular season. Now post season that’s another story!

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    1. 27 starts. 168 innings. 3.42 ERA. I believe that to be the most accurate projection. He’s just not a 200 inning guy anymore and we don’t need him to be. Proper recovery, which means more days off, is the key to Kershaw being ready for post season. With the number of starters we have on this club there is no reason to start Kershaw 32 times. Those days are over.

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  5. Referencing Bear’s comment above, I saw a video of Manfred’s apology regarding what he said about the trophy. He’s made a ton of errors on how he’s handled the entire Astros situation but I thought his apology was excellent and sincere. He said he was wrong and he said that a few times in the same apology. He was a man about it and made no excuses. He didn’t say “I was wrong, but…………………”. He said “I was wrong”.
    Something I didn’t know, when MLB warned teams after the apple watch scenario, the players’ union negotiated a paragraph in the agreement saying the players would not be punished if something happened again. Management would be held responsible for policing it. I imagine a lot of players aren’t very happy with their union at this point. Manfred didn’t need to offer players immunity to testify because they already had it.

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      1. The irony here is what’s good for the Astros players is bad for the rest of the players (in terms of how punishment is handled), so the union is really conflicted here. I think they’ll have to decide how they want to approach this in the future and then sit down with Manfred and come to an agreement. If the union can’t agree on one policy internally how can MLB come to an agreement with them?

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      2. It would be ideal if both parties recognized the threat. Don’t f*** with this game. Fans are watching and there are lines we will not let you cross. Naive? Maybe. I sure hope not.

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