For several seasons the Los Angeles Dodgers aimed to alleviate pressure on Clayton Kershaw, but it wasn’t until the past couple years they have successfully managed to do so. The Dodgers faced a grim reality in 2017 when a herniated disc forced him to the injured list.
However, the team rallied behind Kershaw’s absence and continued to play at a high level. They also withstood losing him to injury during parts of last season and to begin this year. While Kershaw has proven healthy thus far in 2019, he’s a different pitcher.
Gone are the days where he can rear back and throw a fastball that might reach the mid-90s. Instead, Kershaw has become more reliant on a sharp slider and same knee-buckling curveball he’s patented.
While noting Kershaw did not have a full arsenal of pitches working effectively, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts raved about one of his staff’s aces and the direction he continues to trend toward, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“Kersh was really good in my opinion. It’s very rare for a pitcher to have all his pitches working, and tonight the curveball wasn’t there for me as far as consistency. There were some good ones in there but I just thought the way he sequenced, pitching to all parts of the zone, the slider I thought was good, the fastball command. He just wills his way to be efficient, to get outs, the pace of play is always good when he’s in there. I thought he was really good. He’s getting to a good place. He really is, and it was fun to watch him.”
Pitching on the five-year anniversary of his no-hitter and on Clayton Kershaw bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium, the left-hander turned in a vintage performance in a 9-0 win over the San Francisco Giants.
Spotted a 2-0 lead in the first, Kershaw held the Giants to just three hits as he pitched through seven shutout innings. The scoreless appearance was his first of the season.
San Francisco threatened in the second inning on a walk and base hit with one out, and again in the seventh when Kevin Pillar doubled with two outs. Cody Bellinger helped Kershaw offset a leadoff walk in the sixth by making a leaping catch at the wall in right field.
Kershaw then picked off Donovan Solano — the 54th of his career — to end the inning. He improved to 6-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.85 this season. Kershaw additionally added to an MLB record and made National League history with an 18th consecutive quality start at home against a single opponent.