Clayton Kershaw made his second career Opening Day start this evening against the Padres, but he didn’t stick around for long.
Kershaw was bothered by the stomach flu and Vin Scully mentioned on the television broadcast that he had to talk his way out of being scratched. While his stuff clearly wasn’t as crisp as normal, the 2011 NL Cy Young winner still managed to make it through three shutout innings before being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the top of the fourth inning.
All told, Kershaw gave up two hits while fanning three, walking one and throwing a wild pitch. Oh, and he also had the Dodgers’ first hit of the game, a slap-double down the left field line in the third inning. Yes, Kershaw with the flu is still better than 99.9 percent of the world’s population.
Anyway, pretty crummy timing to get sick, but Kershaw should be fine for his next scheduled start.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.