The 2019 season marks longtime Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw’s 12th as a Major Leaguer, and perhaps his most important in quite some time.
The 31-year-old, who re-signed with the organization on a three-year contract over the offseason, missed the majority of Spring Training with left shoulder inflammation and did not make a single Cactus League start as a result.
After a long road to recovery, Kershaw finally made his regular-season debut on Monday against the Cincinnati Reds and put forth an excellent start. He allowed two runs and struck out six over seven innings.
The outing was certainly a step in the right direction for Kershaw, who has battled injuries in each of the past three seasons.
Starting to trend upwards in age, Kershaw highlighted that the success garners on the mound is what most matters to him at this stage of his career, not velocity, per ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez:
“The results are what matter to me,” Kershaw said. “I don’t care about what I had in years past or what I have now. But I want the results, and I want to get people out as efficiently and as well as I have in the past. And I plan on doing that. I don’t know if it’s going to look different or not, but I plan on having the same success.”
Kershaw acknowledged that he is a different pitcher in year’s past, but still wants to achieve his ultimate goal in consistently getting batters out. He was forced to reinvent himself last season, relying less on his fastball and more on breaking pitches.
Kershaw has made it clear that he plans to adapt and noted he is open to developing a changeup to add to his pitch arsenal. However, he still hopes to regain some of his lost fastball velocity and prioritized doing so over the offseason.