Clayton Kershaw made his second start for the Los Angeles Dodgers since being activated off the 15-day injured list last Thursday, turning in another outing with solid results but some underlying concerns.
Although Kershaw has made it through five innings in two consecutive starts and allowed a combined two runs, his stuff has yet to fully bounce back as he’s also managed just six strikeouts. Without his swing-and-miss stuff, both of Kershaw’s starts felt like more of a grind than a dominant outing the ERA would suggest.
It’s fair to bet on Kershaw’s stuff returning to form as he continues to build up, and he’s been able to turn in solid performances in the meantime. Against the Milwaukee Brewers, Kershaw went five innings, giving up just one run on a solo homer, while striking out two and walking two.
“Better to be lucky than good,” Kershaw said of his start. “So many great defensive plays, a lot of lineouts right at guys, Mookie (Betts) and Freddie (Freeman) made big plays for me. Kiké (Hernández) and C.T. (Chris Taylor) in the outfield. It wasn’t pretty tonight and I definitely was lucky, but at the end of the day I’ll take it.
“Getting through five again and just kind of building up kind of slow. Get ready for the next one.”
Kershaw mixed in all four of his pitches, utilizing the fastball, slider, curveball and split-changeup, which is something he generally only does when he isn’t confident in his primary offspeed pitches. He had similar usage with the changeup last time out, but he felt some regression between the outings.
“Well, I thought the last one was better than this one, so I don’t know,” Kershaw said. “I think there were some good throws in there but overall it wasn’t pretty. There’s really not a whole lot to build on. Just pitch better next time, hopefully go a little deeper, and maybe get some groundballs and some strikeouts, and not so many lineouts.”
It stands to reason Kershaw may have benefited from a rehab assignment to get his stuff back at a high level, but he rejects that notion, which led to only utilizing simulated games before returning.
“I think no matter what, there’s no way to simulate pitching in big league games,” Kershaw said. “If your stuff is good in the Minor Leagues it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be good here, and vice versa. There’s no way to do it except kick the rust off, go out there and do it.
“Thankfully, we score a lot of runs and I’m on a great team that wins a lot of games. It’s definitely a huge blessing to be on such a good team and have such a good streak. It makes it a lot easier to come back.”
Dodgers offense taking pressure off Clayton Kershaw
Thankfully for Kershaw, he can afford to not be at his best because the Dodgers lineup has found their groove and appears to be unstoppable during the month of August. That has helped take some of the pressure off all the pitchers, which is a sentiment Kershaw also shared.
“I think it makes it easier to come back when they’re playing so well,” he said. “You feel like you can be a part of it a little bit better. You still want to pitch well regardless, but I think games like tonight, where you don’t really have your best stuff, it’s definitely a huge blessing to have such a great team.
“I think Wade (Miley) honestly pitched better than I did. He just had some unlucky breaks, catcher’s interferences and some seeing-eye groundballs. Sometimes that’s the way baseball is. I’ll take it.”
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