Can Clayton Kershaw Finally Put 2017 Behind Him?

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Is it time for actual baseball games yet?

As the Dodgers spring training continues on, the hangover of 2017 also just keeps lingering. This, of course, is through no fault of the Dodgers themselves; I’m certain that they are more than happy to finally move on from that fated season.

None more so than Clayton Kershaw, I’m sure. (Although, if you haven’t checked out the fantastic article by Jon Weisman with Andre Either, I highly recommend it). Of all the legacies of players on the Dodgers, if Los Angeles never does win that ring in the next few seasons, it will be Kershaw who may suffers the most. He will be doomed to be the Dan Marino of the major leagues, the greatest pitcher to never win a World Series title.

Kershaw recently spoke with Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated and reflected on that marred series. Unlike the Houston players, even though he wasn’t the wronged party, he still puts the blame on his own shoulders. He didn’t change his signs with catcher Austin Barnes because, in his mind, why should he? He had steamrolled the Astros in Game 1 and was cruising in Game 5, up until he wasn’t.

Then, explaining his reasoning, Kershaw said, “To me, it’s like, ‘Well, I’m not tipping my pitches, I give one sign, and they shouldn’t be able to know what’s coming because they’re not getting it from the catcher and they’re not getting it from me.’ They shouldn’t know. And that’s probably just me being naive as well about how they can use technology.”

Kershaw was playing by an old honor code in a den of thieves. It was the equivalent of using “password” as your password while at a hackers’ convention. But who knew? Who would suspect anyone of stealing and relaying signs in real time at the World Series? The Astros, that’s who.

Now, all Kershaw can do is learn and move on. It’s been well documented the digression of Kershaw over the last few seasons. The greatest pitcher of this generation is aging, as it happens to all of the best. 2019 was the first time his ERA was over 3 since his rookie season in 2008, as he finished the year with a 16-5 record and a 3.03 ERA. We have been spoiled as fans, as that is seen as a ‘bad’ season.

Still, that was not as good a season as Kershaw had hoped, and so he’s spent time this offseason working on his his throwing and conditioning routine. “A lot of his success last season was with grit and guile” manager Dave Roberts told reporters Thursday morning.

And so Kershaw works towards a better 2020.

PECOTA is high on Kershaw, placing him as a top five pitcher in both DRA and DRA-, and third in WARP, behind Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. His full projection is a 2.28 ERA, 171 innings pitched, and 208 strikeouts. That would put him at 11 strikeouts per nine innings. While I would be absolutely thrilled with this season for Kershaw, I don’t think he’ll be quite that successful.

But I do think that he’ll be better than last season.

On Tuesday, Dennis also wrote about Kershaw and his optimism for the upcoming season. In it he states that both Steamer and Baseball Reference are at much lower projections than PECOTA.

Kershaw has had all winter to think about 2017, and the way the 2019 season ended. This has also been the longest offseason for him and the Dodgers, and with the sting of the last few postseasons fresh in his mind, he’ll be more motivated than ever to bounce back. With the new pitching staff and the intell from Driveline, there will be new ideas and ways to make Kershaw a better pitcher—not just a thrower.

My biggest hope is that the Dodgers finally have a bullpen to depend on through the playoffs so it isn’t left up to Kershaw yet again. But there is time for that to work itself out. In the meantime, I am eagerly awaiting seeing No. 22 back in action on the mound.

32 thoughts on “Can Clayton Kershaw Finally Put 2017 Behind Him?

  1. DR will announce the starting pitcher for Saturday’s Cactus league opener tomorrow. Kersh is lined up to make the start. All of the Dodgers spring games will be telecast this year. So if you have Sportsnet LA, you will get the games. I have MLB.TV until my subscription runs out so I can watch a few of the spring games. Saturday they play the Giants in Scottsdale, and then Sunday they have the Cubbies at Camelback. Yanks shut down Severino with forearm tightness, never a good thing, and Carrasco was shut down by the Indians and is having his leg examined. Puig still a free agent, and there is a report that Tony Cingrani has had interest from multiple teams.

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  2. Maybe Puig can hook up with a Cuban team, now wouldn’t that be a “how do you do” moment?

    Has Puig worn out his welcome already in the MLB? Maybe he should be the next commish, he couldn’t do any worse than Mantool.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bear I had heard Gonsolin is starting Saturday and Wood Sunday. Can’t remember where.. Thx Dennis for the nice write up on Kersh. I too expect him to have even a better year than last if he can stay healthy. Don’t know about a .228 era but I bet somewhere in the two’s. Go Kersh!

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    1. That’s cool. There has not been an official announcement yet… And you put your foot in it giving credit to Dennis for Andy’s post,,,,U in big trouble boy…LOL….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh don’t let him off the hook. He deserves at least a 1 day in the dog house suspension! Cool video on twitter shows a Blue Jays player surrounded by team mates playing trash cans in tribute to the Astros…hilarious.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Uh oh rich, you stuck your foot in your mouth on that one, this is Andy’s article.
    So are you going to pull an Astro, and act like it didn’t happen, Rich? Or are you going to give Andy a sincere, heartfelt apology.😀

    Don’t worry Andy I’ve got your back.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. LA Times writer referring to the cheats as the Houston Astericks. At the very least that fits.

    I will give you one, Commissioner Mantool.

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  6. Well real baseball will be played on Saturday! Yay. The crack of the bat, and the beauty of the game. Even the Asstericks can’t mess that up for me. Now is the time to concentrate on 2020. They have not listed Gore on the non roster invitee list yet. Like I said, I do not think he has any chance of cracking the 26 man roster. Saw a photo on twitter of Betts in his Dodger uni sporting these bright red cleats. Uh, this is the Dodgers, not the Red Sox….lose the red gear. Not a whisper about whether they are still shopping Pederson. Sooner or later they will have to make some sort of decision on Alvarez. He is still on the restricted list. As is Toles. Expecting my new guitar Amp this weekend. Been playing through an amp that is designed for acoustic electric guitars, not my Squire Tele. More snow on the way here on Sunday.

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      1. That is really poor form. If just one person reporting this, it may be a case of mistaken identity or someone trying to stir up trouble. Maybe it was you spreading vicious rumors IJDM. 🙂

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      2. It’s also an awkward use of a subordinate conjunction. If it happened in a Red Sox hat it’s an insubordinate conjunction.

        Harvesting and consuming the filter organ of quadruped is a disgusting practice.

        I’m done. Carry on.

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      3. Well he was there for a long time. Downs got an infield single in his first spring at bat with the Bosox. Jansen learned a new grip for his slider from Hershiser and Honeycutt. Joel Peralta is also working with the pitchers.

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  7. Regarding Bear’s comment above about Alvarez, I read somewhere that they have 30 days at which point they’ll have to make a decision. If they do add him they will, of course, need to cut someone. Sorry I don’t remember where I read that so can’t tell you if it was a reliable source for this kind of info.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You could probably look it up somewhere on the web. I found the rule about gambling that way because i did not want to look ignorant….Does Alvarez have options left? They could always trade him too.

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      1. His trade value is pretty much at an all time low. That might change if he had a really good spring.
        I would guess he has 3 option years left since he’s never been on a major league 25-man roster.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Might be true. If he has options, they can just bring him off of the restricted list and send him down. He definitely needs more time at the higher levels.

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  8. Betts spotted in Glendale Tattoo Parlor last night, getting BoSox ink done on his left breast.

    Did I mention that I gullible people are awesome?

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  9. He is getting 27 mil so he can pretty much do what he likes. Not a tat person myself. Never saw the attraction. Don’ like piercings either. My dad on the other hand had a bunch. But he was in the Navy a long time. Had a battleship on his back. All I want to see from him is production. What he does when he is off the field is his own business.

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    1. I got a tat when I was in the service. Had it removed. I saw Downs “hit”. It was a bleeder misplayed by the third baseman. E-5 on my scorecard. I wouldn’t take anything It Don’t Matter says seriously. Mookie’s a Dodger in his contract year. This is a very important season for him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I get that totally. Just saw a video of Buehler pitching a little BP to a guy named Gore, sporting Matt Kemp’s 27. His curveball looks like it is in midseason form. Dropped off of the table and locked his knees.

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      2. I saw that. Gore did not pick up the spin quickly. So much for 20/15 vision. That ball broke nicely but it was center cut. Was that maybe one of those at bats where hitters aren’t actually live? He didn’t look ready to offer on that one.

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