In the days after Clayton Kershaw pitched with the lowest average fastball velocity in his career, the Los Angeles Dodgers decided to push his next start back.
Manager Dave Roberts initially indicated that would come in the series opener against the Seattle Mariners, but Kershaw instead is starting on Saturday.
“I thought originally it was going to be Friday, but talking through it with our pitching guys, Saturday made more sense,” Roberts explained.
The decision to skip Kershaw in the rotation — he was due to face the San Diego Padres on one day of extra rest Monday night — is now going to result in going 10 days between outings.
“He’s going to throw a heavy bullpen [Tuesday], which will get him online for Saturday,” Roberts said. “He feels good. Every day he feels better after his last start. Like I said the other day, just getting him that Saturday start kind of sets things up in the forthcoming weeks. He’s in a good spot. He really is.”
Roberts previously revealed Kershaw’s left shoulder would not get back to 100% health this season, but continued to maintain the long layoff is not injury-related.
“I don’t think rest at this point would be harmful, in talking to the training staff and also give him the best chance to make a full start and going forward lining him up,” Roberts reiterated.
Kershaw and the Dodgers collectively have been vague since he was put on the 15-day injured list in July because of left shoulder inflammation. He was expected to make a quick return but wound up being delayed after Dr. Neal ElAttrache recommended more rest following an MRI.
Kershaw declined to reveal the specifics of his MRI and after laboring through last week’s start against the Miami Marlins, said the seemingly-ailing shoulder was not to blame.
Can Clayton Kershaw get fastball velocity back?
The prolonged stretch between start is allowing Kershaw to work on mechanics, which Roberts believes will play a part in fastball velocity picking back up.
“I think a lot of it is mechanics, delivery, overall how the body feels. Obviously with pitching, it’s so finite in the movements and when something is off, there’s compensation with the body,” Roberts said.
“Which ultimately changes some of the mechanics. I just talked to him earlier today, and he says he feels really good. The arm is working well, so for me, I feel even better today about Clayton than I did yesterday. And better than I did two days ago.
“The hope is on [Tuesday] his ‘pen will be better than it was the other day and I expect him to make a full start come Saturday. … I’m very confident. I think with anything, it just increases margin.
“He was fine in Miami without the velo, but I still believe with the rest and kind of cleaning up some things with the delivery, the velo and characteristics of all of his pitches will be back inline with normal.”
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