Clayton Kershaw doesn’t like defensive shifts

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Today, we learned two things about Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw. One: he likes unions, or at least the MLB players’ union. Two: he dislikes defensive shifts, as ESPN reports.

“I think just mentally for me I can live with a hard-hit ball getting through a hole as opposed to a soft, cheap ground ball that goes through because no one is playing there because of a shift,” the Los Angeles Dodgers ace said, according to the Orange County Register. “Mentally, it’s just easier for me to swallow. You start making excuses in your head like, ‘Ah, I made my pitch.’ You just don’t want to have that in the back of your mind. At least I don’t.”

The Dodgers plan to make use of more defensive shifting, but Kershaw thinks it is “definitely a conversation that we need to have.”

New manager Dave Roberts seems to agree.

“So if he’s not comfortable — especially a pitcher as accomplished as Clayton is — you’ve gotta have the buy-in. If he’s not comfortable and doesn’t trust what we’re doing behind him, then it doesn’t work,” Roberts said, according to the Register. “Certain guys that we might shift for a certain pitcher … we might not with Clayton if he doesn’t feel comfortable with it. I just don’t think it’s the manager’s call or the coaches’ call if a certain accomplished pitcher doesn’t feel comfortable.”

According to a Los Angeles Times report by Zach Helfand last year, the Dodgers ranked 26th with 185 shifts through the first half and had only 208 shifts throughout the entire 2014 season. The club recently went through a front office overhaul, adding stat-friendly executives in Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, Josh Byrnes, and others. That the Dodgers would move towards more and more defensive shifting was to be expected.