One of the characteristics that has made Clayton Kershaw arguably the top pitcher of his generation is consistency to a much-ballyhooed routine. But with Kershaw experiencing back trouble over recent seasons, it’s led to a give and take with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The team has more aggressively removed Kershaw from starts during circumstances that he otherwise would have remained in the game, and regularly sought to provide the three-time Cy Young Award winner with extra rest between outings.
Both of those were a factor this week, as Kershaw’s scheduled start was pushed back. As a result he took the mound Wednesday night at Marlins Park on seven days’ rest. And despite that, Kershaw was removed at just 90 pitches and seven shutout innings.
Following the game, Kershaw again voiced some frustration with receiving a long break between starts but noted the overarching goal being what’s most important, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I had like a mini All-Star break basically. It’s not ideal, obviously. More than anything you just want to stay in that rhythm. One day (of extra rest) every once in a while (is OK) but obviously you have to understand the bigger picture of what we’re trying to do. It’s set up better for everybody, so just kind of roll with it and go on.”
Removing his 2019 debut from the equation, Kershaw has made seven starts on regular (four days) rest, nine on five days’ rest, two with six days between outings, and now one with a full week. The Dodgers swapping Kershaw with Dustin May this week came with the left-hander being removed from tying a season high with 101 pitches.
Statistics suggest Kershaw has been at his best this season when pitching on regular rest or with at least six days between outings. He’s 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA on regular rest, and 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA when starting on six-plus days off. That’s compared to a 4-1 record but 3.41 ERA on five days’ rest.
With his victory against the Marlins, Kershaw tied Sandy Koufax for fifth on the Dodgers’ all-time wins list at 165, and pulled even for most in franchise history by a left-hander.
While there’s been some compromising between Kershaw and the Dodgers, most important for both has been his health. Particularly after Kershaw experienced shoulder trouble during Spring Training that led to beginning the season on the 10-day injured list.