Clayton Kershaw Anticipates ‘Restrictions’ Soon Coming Off Dodgers Starting Pitchers

Clayton Kershaw entered Sunday’s start against the San Diego Padres needing just seven strikeouts to pass Don Sutton for the most in franchise history, and not only did he fall short of that mark but the left-hander only pitched five innings in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 10-2 win.

“I didn’t really think about that,” Kershaw said of the all-time Dodgers strikeout leaders list. “I never really try to think about strikeouts, but it is something special. Hopefully I do it at some point this year.

“But today was great. Guys played awesome, Belli obviously with the two big homers for us. Obviously five innings isn’t the goal. It’s not what you want to do as a starting pitcher, especially the way our bullpen has been worked, but they did a great job too. Overall it was a great day for us.”

The five innings tied for Kershaw’s shortest start of the season; he remained on the mound for the sixth against the Atlanta Braves last week, but was removed before getting an out in the inning.

Kershaw completing just five innings was a byproduct of the Dodgers holding a comfortable lead and being mindful of the long year ahead. “I actually felt pretty good. I think the last one, didn’t feel great,” he said.

“I feel like that fifth inning I was gaining some momentum. Threw some good pitches and definitely could’ve gone back out there, but this was kind of a bigger picture thing.”

The Dodgers have been long taken a deliberate and cautious approach with their pitchers, and that has held particularly true this season due to the shortened Spring Training period. However, Kershaw anticipates being given a longer leash in the weeks ahead.

“I think this first month, get everybody’s feet wet, especially when we have extra relievers down there in the ‘pen,” he said. “Probably have the restrictions come off in May, would be my guess. But for now, with the buildup the way it was, I think it was the right decision.

“I probably could’ve gone back out there but thankfully we scored a bunch of runs so we didn’t have to think about it.”

While the Dodgers have overall been cautious with their starters, Roberts did give some extra leash to Walker Buehler, who pitched a complete game shutout against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 25. The right-hander threw 108 pitches in the start.

Kershaw contributing to strong Dodgers starting pitching stats

Dodgers starters have logged 96.2 innings so far this season, which ranks 16th overall in baseball. Their 2.14 ERA leads all rotations while they are also second in .186 batting average against and in WHIP at 0.97.

Even with two of three starts this season being on the shorter side, Kershaw is 3-0 with a 2.65 ERA, 0.59 WHIP and 23 strikeouts over 17 innings pitched.

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