Ben Sheets was awful again Sunday afternoon against the Blue Jays, allowing nine runs while failing to make it out of the fourth inning. Here’s what he said afterward:
My breaking ball is absolutely getting walloped every time I throw it. I wouldn’t say my location has been this bad maybe since my rookie year. I feel good, I feel healthy. To keep leaning on that crutch is kind of getting old. For me, I can’t even get a rhythm of having fun out there. Every pitch I’ve thrown so far this year has been bearing down, worried about my pitch, worried about this, worried about that.
Toronto knocked him around for eight extra-base hits, including three homers, and Sheets now has a 7.12 ERA and abysmal 16/16 K/BB ratio in 30.1 innings overall this season. His velocity is at career-low levels after missing all of 2009 following elbow surgery and Oakland’s one-year gamble looks more and more like $10 million flushed away.
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.