Rather than make his usual turn in the starting rotation earlier this spring, the Los Angeles Dodgers moved Clayton Kershaw to a “B” game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The left-hander reportedly allowed two runs on four hits and had six strikeouts over 5.1 innings on a backfield at Camelback Ranch.
While the results were promising, Kershaw’s fastball velocity still only sat at 88-89 mph. “It’s funny. I think we have this conversation every year with Clayton. I’m not concerned about,” Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said.
“I think if you look at adrenaline relative to each pitcher, they’re all sort of in that same bucket. Whether it’s Gonsolin, May, Bauer. It’s the same. The velocity will tick up with the adrenaline and all that stuff. This is part of the process for these guys.”
Kershaw averaged a slightly higher fastball velocity at the start of 2020 Spring Training, but Roberts doesn’t believe the difference is significant. “There might’ve been flashes of it, but I just think overall I can’t speak to the average velocity in Spring Training,” Roberts said.
“I do know when it’s time to go, time to get Major League hitters out, he does that and has always done that. That’s my main concern. I know there’s always a talk of velocity with not only him but most starters. This was his third outing and it’s part of the building process.”
Also pitching in Sunday’s “B” game against the Brewers was Kenley Jansen, who retired both batters faced. Like for Kershaw, Roberts wasn’t paying attention to the radar gun.
“With Kenley, I think a lot of his shortcomings last year were command and misfires,” Roberts said. “That’s No. 1, and I do think the consistent delivery he’s had this spring, the body weight, the way his body is moving, will lend to an uptick in velocity as well.
“But with all pitchers, if you’re not high, high velocity, you’ve got to command the baseball and mix. Kenley understands that.”
Roberts believes Jansen has extra motivation in contract year
After a disappointing close to the 2020 season, Roberts believes Jansen has something to prove in his contract year. “I think so, and I think that’s a good thing,” Roberts said.
“Anytime you get a very talented, motivated player, whatever the motivation might be, I think that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing for him and that’s a good thing for the Dodgers.
“Yeah, I definitely think he’s motivated, or if you want to put it as has something to prove. Bottom line is I like where he’s at.”
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