Dave Roberts, the manager of the Dodgers, mentioned that Kershaw wasn’t feeling his best before going onto the mound on President’s Day as well as the following Wednesday. Roberts did stress, however, that Kershaw’s back is not the issue. His back had previously put him on the injured list for the past three seasons.
Roberts said it was merely an arm kind of thing. However, no one was worried or alarmed at the knowledge since it was still early enough in the season for Kershaw to stretch out. On February 19, Roberts announced that Kershaw would begin on Opening Day for the ninth year in a row. In taking a step back, the Dodgers say they are merely cautious.
Kershaw commented, saying this would be the only chance he would get to step back during the season. Therefore, this is the best time to do so. The pitcher held an ERA of 2.73 and a WHIP of 1.04 the season previous. However, the velocity of his fastball dipped into the lower 90s while his slider started to look like a cutter. This change gave Kershaw hardly any differentiation outside of the rare times he threw his curveball. Since his rookie season (2008) this game had his lowest rate for strikeouts (8.6) and highest hit rate (7.8).
Kershaw Works Towards Improving Upon His Skills Even More
When Kershaw signed his three-year extension to stay with the Dodgers this past November, he explained he wanted to prove a lot of people wrong by getting back into some of the velocity he used to have. This deal tacked on an extra season to his previous contract he opted out of previously.
He then spent most of his offseason time in Dallas to try and increase his flexibility and delivery accuracy. When speaking to reporters, they noticed Kershaw seemed less bullish on his previous desires at the beginning of camp. He admitted he was more fired up at the time.
On February 22, reporters asked Kershaw if his decision to take a break came from any frustration in where he was with his expectations of himself. He only gave a smile, repeating that he was just taking a few days off.