Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers were expected to have a strong starting rotation in 2023, but outside of Clayton Kershaw, their staff has been anything but reliable.
Among the Dodgers’ starting pitchers, Kershaw is the only one with enough innings to qualify for the leaderboards. He’s thrown 89.1 innings with a 2.72 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10.38 strikeouts per nine and 2.32 walks per nine as the ace of the staff.
No one else in the Dodgers rotation has thrown more than 55.1 innings, and four of their starters with at least 20 innings have an ERA above 4.00.
When the Dodgers bullpen was in their worst slump in recent memory, it was Kershaw who took the ball against the Los Angeles Angels with seven shutout innings. It allowed the bullpen to close out the final two innings rather than needing to cover a substantial portion of the game.
The following day, the bullpen combined to pitch nine scoreless with Evan Phillips and Caleb Ferguson giving credit to Kershaw for setting the tone.
“I think what Clayton does transcends to every baseball player, or should transcend to every baseball player,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “You don’t always have your best stuff, but I think the way he takes his outings, each at-bat is personal.
“And I think that when you’re on the mound or in the batter’s box, and you make it personal, that gives you that extra edge. That’s something I’ve seen recently with our guys in the ‘pen.”
Overall, the Dodgers pitching staff has a 4.54 ERA, with their starters posting a 4.35 ERA.
They’ve dealt with injuries to Julio Urías, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Noah Syndergaard, Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove, which has forced L.A. to rely on multiple rookies to tread water.
But even through that, Kershaw has been a steadying presence for the rotation and someone the Dodgers can rely on each time out, while also giving bullpen much-needed rest.
“I haven’t really dug into all that, but speaking to our team, he’s been a stalwart and the glue for this team this year,” Roberts said when asked if Kershaw’s value is higher compared to other starting pitchers.
“I believe that you win with starting pitching, and him making his starts, going deep in games, giving us a chance to win every time he takes the mound, the exponential affect he has on the group, the way he goes about it, all that stuff is of huge value.”
The Dodgers will need Kershaw to continue pitching like he has if they hope to find themselves making a deep push into October, and so far there’s no reason to believe Kershaw can’t continue pitching at this level.
Clayton Kershaw impressed Dodgers with ‘next pitch’ ability
Kershaw’s performance against the Angels was not without drama. In a tie game in the seventh inning, the Angels had runners on second and third base with nobody out.
Eventually, the bases were loaded with two outs in the inning, and he still managed to get out of the jam.
“At the end of the day, I always think about the next pitch,” Kershaw explained of escaping the trouble. “That’s kind of what I try to do. Just try to make the next pitch.
“There’s nothing you can do about the last one. Just keep making the next pitch until they take you out. It is harder to do sometimes than others, but just try to breathe and think about the next pitch.”
Kershaw’s ability to stem off a rally and focus on one pitch at a time has become a trademark not lost on his opponents or teammates.
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