Clayton Kershaw is my favorite Dodger. I was on the Kershaw bandwagon long before he was Clayton Kershaw. Disclaimer: I do not claim to be the only one to see that. Ray Charles saw it too, but it was about 13 years ago that Roger Dodger and Voldmar and I went to Beloit, Wisconsin to see Clayton Kershaw pitch for the Great Lakes Loons, and it was as close as you can get. We sat in the “scout area” and it was obvious to everyone that he was special. His stuff was “otherworldly” but the Beloit team roughed him up a bit. That brings up a couple of issues :
- How does Clayton evolve?
- Why do players stay on teams when they don’t do well?
Clayton Needs to Evolve
When Clayton first came up, he sometimes touched 97-98 MPH. Over the years, that has went down as he has amassed over 2,000 innings on that Golden Left Arm. I think he likely will need surgery and miss a season very soon, but he’s not there yet. Saturday in Milwaukee, he rarely pitched above 89 MPH, and he should have only allowed 1 run, but the Dodgers’ defense let him down. He looked dominant at times and not so dominant at other times. He is always around the plate, so hitters are always looking in the “zone.”
When you have a fastball that hits 93-94, like even last year it’s difficult to hit a strike, but when that fastball is 88-90, it’s easier to hit any of his pitches. Clayton Kershaw is still an “Elite Pitcher.” His ERA is 2.64 and he has a 1.09 WHIP. He is one of the Top 15 pitchers in baseball, but he’s no longer THE BEST THERE IS!
The thing is: I think he can still get better… until his arm gives out… if he evolves. He can no longer throw one down the middle and dare some batter to try and hit it, because they can! He is going to have to work the corners a little more and maybe that will lead to a few more walks… and yes, I know walks are bad. I’m not talking about a lot more walks, just more “nibbling” like when Greg Maddux evolved.
He also has to change his pitching paterns – hitters are jumping on that first pitch, because they know he is going to throw a strike… and they are ready. Clayton just nededs to pitch 5 or 6 innings and give up 2 runs or less and he can be a force for us. I would love to have deGrom, but (1) I doubt he is traded; and (2) if he is, it will be for a HUGE HAUL (think Verdugo, Lux, May, Ruiz and Santana – yes, that kind of HUGE). Why would the Mets trade him unless they get a windfall?
So, the Dodgers have to make up in quantity, what they might lack in quality. They need 8 healthy starters for the playoffs – 4 of whom will be in the bullpen. They may add another arm, but they won’t overpay and they won’t go over the Luxury Tax Threshold. If everyone is healthy at the end of the season, I am not so sure the team needs another arm, but it never hurts.
Caleb Ferguson is one pitch away from being a solid starter, but with what he has, he is a solid bullpen piece. He may never get that third pitch… and that ain’t a bad thing.
Why Teams Keep Players Fans Think are Bad
I must confess I was so frustrated with Logan Forsythe that I wanted him DFA’ed… or worse. Sometimes we can’t understand why a player is still on the team when we look at the stats, but maybe we aren’t seeing “everything.” We don’t see how they work out, we don’t see how they study film, how they prepare or how they take extra BP and ask for help (or not). We don’t see conversations they have with teammates and coaches. We don’t see how much they want it. We often don’t understand what kind of injury they may have – where they are in the rehab process and many other things. We don’t know how their teammates feel about them, but we do know that Doc believes in players who work hard.
In The LA Times, Houston Mitchell wrote this:
Logan Forsythe is 31 years old and in the final season of a three-year, $18.5-million deal he signed with Tampa Bay before the 2016 season. The Dodgers acquired him before the 2017 season in exchange for Jose De Leon.
Since then, Forsythe has hit .219/.325/.317, good for a 73 OPS+. I do believe Davey Lopes would put up similar numbers, and he’s 73.
So why does Dave Roberts keep sending him out there? He was asked that, and here’s his response according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register:
“I don’t ever doubt his preparedness, his focus, his intent. It’s been a tough go for Logan for 2 1/2 months, 3 months. I think the defense is above average.
“You guys know me — I don’t like to give up on players. Especially when they’re doing things the right way, because I think that sends a message to the clubhouse. I appreciate his work. He never once takes his offense out to the defensive side. For me, that means a lot.”
Now on one level, I understand that response. Roberts isn’t going to bury a player publicly. It’s not like anyone expects him to answer with “Yeah, he’s horrible. We’re thinking of releasing him.”
The troubling part is the “It’s been tough go for Logan for 2 1/2, 3 months.”
So, Doc ran him out there again on Sunday and Logan went 3-4 with a walk to boot. I’m not going to pronounce him “cured” but it’s a start. Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals was hitting .140 with 2 HR on May 15th and they stuck with him. He’s now hitting .277 with 24 HR! You and I do not know what Logan has been going through, but Dave Roberts does… plus he knows a lot more too. That’s good enough for me. I defer to Doc – he’ not an idiot and I trust he has good reasons. Like Clayton, who got roughed up by Beloit, good things sometimes come to those who wait!
We got to Milwaukee just as the gates opened, so I watched BP and all the warmups. Some may think Justin Turner was rushed back, but I watched him in warmups and he was lobbying for playing Saturday night. He was running, twisting and doing everything he was supposed to do. Yesterday, in real game action, he felt he still wasn’t right and asked out of the game. Good one him! Give him a few more days…
Puig will be back soon and I want to see Verdugo at leadoff. The Dodgers have lots of streaky hitters (Bellinger, Grandal, Pederson, Taylor, et al) – they need more Machados, Turners and Verdugos!
Photos from Milwaukee
We had a blast in Milwaukee. I forgot to take many pictures, but here’s a few, in case you care. We saw the Milwaukee Air Show in the afternoon featuring The Thunderbirds. It was pretty awesome. The Dodgers game? Not so much, but there are some nice pics of Nomar, Alana, Dylan Hernandez, Clayton and Manny. By the way, I have no doubt that Manny can play SS as good… maybe better than Corey Seager!