Dodgers Spring Training: Fastball Command Remains Work In Progress For Clayton Kershaw
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With the Los Angeles Dodgers set to begin the 2017 season in less than two weeks, Clayton Kershaw took the mound Thursday at Surprise Stadium for what was his true final start of the spring. The left-handed ace will pitch again before Opening Day, but it will be more of a tuneup than start.

The goal for Kershaw against the Texas Rangers was to stretch out to six innings or throw 90 pitches. He went six, allowing just two hits and collecting 11 strikeouts to one walk. Kershaw was at 88 pitches through 5.2 innings, and persuaded acting Dodgers manager Bob Geren to leave him in the game.

Kershaw threw another four pitches and got Jason Martinson swinging to strike out the side. While the Dodgers’ ace put forth a dominant performance, Kershaw again lamented his fastball command, via Bill Plunkett of the O.C. Register:

Fastball command wasn’t quite as good as I’d need it to be during the regular season. Just long at-bats that get your pitch count up there, makes it tougher to go seven or eight innings. … I threw everything well at times. Just that fastball command needs to get a little bit better.”

After his first Cactus League start, Kershaw pointed to a lack of fastball command as an area that needed improvement. He was pleased with it following the second start of the year.

Even while being somewhat of a work in progress, the 29-year-old got off to an impressive start this spring. Kershaw threw six hitless innings and had five strikeouts through three starts. The hitless and scoreless streak was snapped by a Mike Moustakas solo home run on March 12.

In his next start, Kershaw was knocked around by the Seattle Mariners to the tune of four runs on six hits, including three home runs, in five innings. He noted the start was marred by stretches were he pitched well and poorly, with little in-between.

Over six Cactus League starts, Kershaw is 1-0 with a 2.14 ERA, 0.71 WHIP and 28 strikeouts to five walks in 21 innings.