Tim Hudson's return

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I gave it short shrift in the recaps this morning, but Tim Hudson’s return to the Braves is worth a few more words and thoughts.

I didn’t see the game, and even if was televised where I live I probably wouldn’t have watched it due to the 3+ hour rain delay that kicked things off.  But friend of CTB tHeMARksMiTh watched it, and he gives us a scouting report:

Sinker — excellent movement and velocity (89 and 90 mph) but relatively poor command;

Cutter/Slider — indistinguishable between the two pitches; sat around 85; little movement and barely noticeable;

Changeup/Splitter — good movement but pretty poor command;

Curveball — didn’t throw it much, but when he did, it was a good one; don’t really remember him throwing it much but he should;

Velocity — very good and around where he was when he left off which is fairly impressive;

Command — not there but was around the plate, and I imagine this will come with time.

The first inning was a bit rough. He left a couple pitches up to Coughlan and Helms, which were hit hard, but he was fine for the rest of the inning. Cantu got jammed but flipped it into center, but it’s worth mentioning that Hudson missed his spot by about three feet. After that, lots of ground balls and few runs. He definitely wasn’t sharp, but I don’t think anyone expected him to be. Still, I was encouraged that the velocity and movement were there.

Fair enough.  Command really is the problem for guys coming back from Tommy John surgery, and his lack of command is a continuation of what he was doing on his rehab start. Velocity, surprisingly, tends to come back more quickly.  In any event, Hudson’s start was encouraging, even if we can’t expect him to be the difference maker in the wild card race. 

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.