Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers are set to enter the 2020 season with one of the deepest starting rotations in baseball, headlined by Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler at the top.
The rest of the staff will consist of Alex Wood, Julio Urias, and one of Dustin May and Ross Stripling. It’s likely to be Stripling, who pitched admirably during intrasquad games as part of his case to fill the void created by David Price opting out of the 2020 season.
Though the order of the rotation hasn’t been confirmed, but the Dodgers are likely to slot them as Kershaw, Stripling, Urias, Wood and Buehler. All but Urias and Buehler are built up to go at least six innings in their first time out.
When Kershaw takes the mound, it may be with a new pitch added to his arsenal. The left-hander spent most of Summer Camp tinkering with different grips for his changeup.
“For Clayton, it’s sort of been a work in progress over the last couple years,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s something that’s certainly a feel pitch, and he’s kind of experimented with different grips over the last couple years.
“I think he’s got something he likes, so there’s no better time to implement than during intrasquad games. I think each time he gets out there he feels better with it.”
To combat a dip in velocity, Kershaw has attempted to work more off-speed pitches into his outings over the years. Should he eventually perfect his changeup, the three-time National League Cy Young Award will have yet another weapon to deploy.
“He’s going to certainly throw it in games. I don’t know percentage, but I know that each time he picks up a baseball and works on it, he gains more confidence,” Roberts added.
“Just to have something off of his fastball, slider and curveball, I think the changeup certainly plays if he has confidence in it. It’s still going to be a lower percentage pitch but I absolutely expect him to use it.”
Stripling has groove with new changeup
Like Kershaw, Stripling has focused on improving his changeup. The pitch was effective for the right-hander last season, but he received feedback that it was easily recognizable out of his hand.
“With Strip, it was changing his grip over the winter and he took it into the spring and really saw the reaction of the hitters with swing-and-miss,” Roberts explained. “He felt really good with it, so that’s a pitch he’s got a ton of confidence in.”
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