The postponement of the series opener between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs didn’t have much of an impact on Clayton Kershaw, who was scheduled to start Tuesday anyhow. The one change for Kershaw was his outing came in an early afternoon start rather than in the evening.
Rather than help the Dodgers begin the doubleheader on a positive note, Kershaw ran into early struggles and pitched all of one inning. It marked the shortest start of his career, which previously was 1.1 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010, and coincidentally also on May 4.
“It wasn’t good. There’s really nothing you can do at this point. It’s embarrassing. No excuses. I was horrible,” Kershaw said after the Dodgers’ 7-1 loss. “Just put our team in a really bad spot in a doubleheader.
“Thankfully the ‘pen stepped up and ate some innings for me. I don’t know. Just chalk it up to a really bad start and get ready for the next one. … I could over analyze it and try to think about it, but honestly I have no idea. Everything was bad, so I’m not going to try and analyze it too much. Just hope that this one was an outlier and get ready for the next one.”
Kershaw began the bottom of the first inning by regularly getting ahead of batters, but then lost command of his slider and curveball, and also was hurt by shaky defense. He needed 39 pitches to get through the opening frame. The Dodgers faced a 5-0 deficit after the first inning.
Manager Dave Roberts was seen having a lengthy conversation with Kershaw in the dugout before officially removing him from the game. “Obviously that’s Doc’s decision. And when you’re not pitching well, you don’t really have much skin in the game to make that call,” Kershaw said.
“Obviously I would’ve liked to continue to go and try and be better, but when you’re that bad, you really can’t stand up for yourself too much.”
There was some concern Kershaw’s struggles could have been related to injury, but Roberts refuted the notion. “He’s fine health-wise,” he said.
That was of course a positive for the Dodgers as they have dealt with a rash of injuries through the first five weeks of the regular season.
What’s next for Kershaw?
Considering Kershaw only threw 39 pitches and the current state of the Dodgers’ starting rotation, it’s plausible he is back on the mound Saturday despite it being short rest.
“I haven’t had that conversation yet with anybody, but I’ll be ready to go whenever they ask me to,” Kershaw said.
Roberts also remained non-committal on the subject for the time being when asked if removing Kershaw after the first inning was with a start on short rest in mind.
“I think for me it was just kind of thinking about Clayton, what we have as far as availability in the ‘pen, the upside and downside of having him continue to go,” Roberts explained. “And the short rest conversation, we’ll have decide what we think is best for Clayton and the Dodgers in the next couple days.”
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