Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Relying On Slider More Than Fastball

The Los Angeles Dodgers snapped their three-game losing skid on Wednesday, defeating the Cincinnati Reds in blowout fashion at Dodger Stadium. Clayton Kershaw turned in a dominant start, allowing only four hits over seven scoreless innings of work with eight strikeouts.

“It was good just to get back in the win column,” the left-hander said. “We’ve been scuffling a little bit and wanted to end the homestand on a good note, get on the road and get going again. This was a good first step, for sure.”

Kershaw primarily relied on his breaking pitches in the outing, which continued a season-long trend. Kershaw has thrown his slider a career-high 44.5% of the time, with his fastball usage declining to a career-low 38.1%.

“I don’t know. I think it’s been trending that way, I guess, over the years,” Kershaw explained. “Once again, there’s not really a rhyme or reason for it. Sometimes the situation dictates throwing it.

“I feel good with it, I feel like I can throw it at any time, behind in the count or ahead in the count. In times I feel like I might have better command with that than my fastball. I think all those things play a big factor into that.”

In addition to throwing his slider more often, Kershaw also spun a heavy dose of curveballs. “There wasn’t a gameplan of throwing more curveballs, but Barnesy does a great job of kind of feeling it out, seeing what’s working,” Kershaw said.

“He maybe started calling that and we started leaning on that a little more towards the end of the game, for sure.”

Kershaw has thrown his curveball 17.4% of the time this season, which is down from 18.8% the previous year. However, it represents his second-highest usage of the pitch since 2016.

Roberts praises Kershaw for evolving as pitcher

Kershaw has tinkered with his arsenal over the years, which he felt was necessary to combat his velocity loss. “I think Clayton, in the best possible way, can be stubborn at times, and we all know that,” Roberts said after Wednesday’s game.

“But understanding his arsenal and knowing he has so many above-average weapons, just to evolve and understand that being able to attack guys in different ways has made him effective, if not more.

“It’s actually fun to watch that evolution because now there’s no one book, whether lefty or righty, to gameplan against Clayton now.”

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