The 2020 season is Clayton Kershaw’s 13th with the Los Angeles Dodgers and despite all of the innings under his belt, the 32-year-old is still one of the best pitchers in the league.
In 10 starts this year, Kershaw went 6-2 with a 2.16 ERA, 3.31 FIP and 0.84 WHIP. He then got his postseason off to a strong start with eight shutout innings, striking out 13 against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series.
A big reason for Kershaw’s success has been an increase in velocity. “Be healthy, for one,” Kershaw began when asked what advice he would give to older pitchers looking to avoid a drop off with their fastball.
“I think that would be the main thing just become healthy, however you can do that. But it’s still a work in progress for me personally.”
While health is key for any player, Kershaw also offered a bit self-criticism and downside to being set in a routine.
“Different days I think you feel better than others but I guess the one piece of advice that I wish I would’ve followed earlier in my career was being stubborn is good because that’s what got you here and having a routine is important. But just be open to different things and it doesn’t hurt to try and just go back to what you’ve always done if you don’t like it,” he said.
“I think my advice would be just try and listen to the right people and try and know who those people are. Fortunately for me, I’ve got a great group of people around me with the Dodgers and as far as cutting-edge things and new-wave technology and things like that to try and make you better, they’re pretty special about that.”
Before the season, a lot of talked about Kershaw’s trip to Driveline Baseball, which likely helped him pick up some tips on his routine as well as ways to increase velocity.
Kershaw continuing to change and evolve
Kershaw has been through plenty of experiences in the Majors, whether it be the highs of winning multiple Cy Young Awards and an MVP, or the low of blowing a crucial postseason game.
After his gem against the Brewers, he spoke about the importance of making necessary changes regardless of results.
“It’s not an exact science but I think maybe in years past I’ve been known to be pretty stubborn, so I just kind of do the same thing no matter what in between starts. No matter how I’m feeling,” he said.
“I think that might not be the best idea at times, so try to figure out some things based on how you feel and actually have to think a little bit. I think maybe it will benefit me in the long run.”
As an example, Kershaw spoke about the work he did to improve his slider before his first postseason start.
“My last start before the season ended, I just didn’t really feel like I had the arm speed to create the movement that I needed to on that pitch,” he explained.
“I did a lot of recovery-type things after my last start against the Angels; I think that probably helped a little bit, just to get that arm speed back that you need to get the torque on the slider.
“Every once in a while you just don’t feel like it’s coming out the way you want it to. That happens. Was able to work on some things, did some extra recovery-type things, which might’ve helped. I don’t know.”
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