Stay Healthy, Please: The Clayton Kershaw Thread

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this is baseball's greatest mystery for me -- i can understand how players can be faster than me, or make better contact, or hit the ball farther, etc. i don't understand how they throw so fucking hard

the astros have that reliever, josh james, who supposedly added 5+ mph to his fastball after getting his sleep apnea treated. i don't understand that either

mookieproof, Friday, 2 November 2018 15:53 (two years ago) link

Verlander's case was a weird one, maybe it was because the injuries he suffered during that time were more easily manageable? The core muscle surgery, the triceps strain...I'm no doctor, but maybe those are not so much the types of issues that'll have long-term effects.

omar little, Friday, 2 November 2018 15:53 (two years ago) link

knowing nothing at all, i'll just bullshit and say "it's all in the wrist"

Karl Malone, Friday, 2 November 2018 15:54 (two years ago) link

did anyone say how Verlander got his velocity "back"? cuz i'm not aware of that happening for anyone else.

Health and mechanical tweaks.


Andy K, Friday, 2 November 2018 16:02 (two years ago) link

And some other stuff.

Andy K, Friday, 2 November 2018 16:03 (two years ago) link

three years, $93m

so he gets an extra year and $28m more guaranteed, will be a free agent following his age-33 season

mookieproof, Friday, 2 November 2018 20:19 (two years ago) link

the astros have that reliever, josh james, who supposedly added 5+ mph to his fastball after getting his sleep apnea treated. i don't understand that either

― mookieproof, Friday, November 2, 2018 11:53 AM (ten hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Body is less tired, muscles have more explosion, etc

Sleep apnea is shit.

Van Horn Street, Saturday, 3 November 2018 02:02 (two years ago) link

yeah i have some sleep issues too but the specific correlation to a significant bump in fastball speed is astonishing

mookieproof, Saturday, 3 November 2018 02:29 (two years ago) link

I have always wanted to be in a batter's box i just see how it feels like having a 100 mph ball coming towards you.

Van Horn Street, Saturday, 3 November 2018 03:34 (two years ago) link

No idea where you live but most cages will have a machine that hits 90 or so.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Saturday, 3 November 2018 03:42 (two years ago) link

it's not really the same. the old machines with the levers are better, but the ones with the two tires give you no sense of timing

at least you know it's probably not going to hit you . . . unless you have a sadistic coach who's torqued up the two wheels. rip jack heimbuecher

mookieproof, Saturday, 3 November 2018 03:53 (two years ago) link

I'm a bit confused by the Kershaw deal -- the one extra year doesn't give him much security. Wouldn't he want to hit free agency a year earlier and stand a better chance at getting a good 3-4 year deal when he's 32, rather than 33?

I guess the logic is that if he opted out now, would he get 3-4 years for 100 million total (=what he'll get from the extension)? He must think the answer is no.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Saturday, 3 November 2018 04:26 (two years ago) link

yeah i'm not sure he'd get a better deal, plus he and the dodgers love each other

mookieproof, Saturday, 3 November 2018 04:45 (two years ago) link

three years, $93m

so he gets an extra year and $28m more guaranteed, will be a free agent following his age-33 season

― mookieproof, Friday, November 2, 2018 4:19 PM (yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

great deal for the dodgers, gives them an out to cut bait if he continues to regress. surprised kershaw took it

k3vin k., Saturday, 3 November 2018 06:28 (two years ago) link

The shape of his career may mirror Seaver's, although the ages don't align precisely.

Seaver was dominant from '69 to '73 (age 24-28), great from '74 to '81 (29-36), and then he tacked on a few years where he was still reasonably effective relative to the league (37-41). There are some blips in there, but you can more or less identify three phases.

Kershaw's dominant phase stretches from 2011-2017 (age 23-29). Maybe last year was the beginning of his merely-great phase.

clemenza, Saturday, 3 November 2018 14:52 (two years ago) link

three months pass...

Sinking feeling he's going to take the Koufax parallels too far.
― clemenza, Monday, July 24, 2017 10:33 AM (one year ago)

I want to strangle the guy who named this thread.

clemenza, Saturday, 23 February 2019 16:45 (two years ago) link

don't feel too bad, it happens to pretty much all of them. :(

Karl Malone, Saturday, 23 February 2019 16:53 (two years ago) link

Per Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, manager Dave Roberts says Kershaw has ceased throwing after feeling that something was amiss following a bullpen session. Roberts termed it an "arm kind of thing" and gave no timetable for a return to throwing. Kershaw will, however, take part in his usual non-throwing workouts.

yikes, an arm kind of thing.

Karl Malone, Saturday, 23 February 2019 16:54 (two years ago) link

in the words of Jeff Sullivan, "Pitching is bad, don't do it."

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 23 February 2019 17:00 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

well, his season debut is tonight. i would love to see him be able to have a couple more solid seasons

The immortal Hydra Viridisimma (outdoor_miner), Monday, 15 April 2019 15:39 (one year ago) link

Yeah, I’m thinking of going.

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, Monday, 15 April 2019 19:23 (one year ago) link

There are at least two prominent historical precedents where guys recreated themselves and went from overpowering strikeout pitchers to...I don't know--location and guile: Luis Tiant and Frank Tanana. Must be others. If he can do that, maybe he can put in six or seven more productive years.

clemenza, Monday, 15 April 2019 19:49 (one year ago) link

cc sabathia is a good example--obviously he never returned to his late '00s, early '10s heights, but he's been effective for the past few seasons.

to halve and half not (voodoo chili), Monday, 15 April 2019 20:08 (one year ago) link

Was surprised to see him go 7 tonight (I assume he won't be out for the 8th), but only 84 pitches.

clemenza, Tuesday, 16 April 2019 04:19 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Clayton Kershaw just became the most productive Dodger in history:

64.8 WAR Kershaw
64.4 WAR Sutton
63.4 WAR Snider

— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) August 7, 2019

mookieproof, Wednesday, 7 August 2019 15:27 (one year ago) link

This is almost at the level of Babe Ruth hitting the home run for the hospitalized kid on the shamelessly cornball scale, but I got a kick out of it anyway.

clemenza, Thursday, 8 August 2019 22:51 (one year ago) link

"Before long, Kershaw will have lost even more fastball velocity. Time wounds all heels, and no one can outrun it forever. For a month, however, Kershaw has turned back the clock. He’s made a simple adjustment that makes batters’ lives harder, and for now that’s enough."

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 9 August 2019 04:17 (one year ago) link

Passed Koufax in wins last night. 12 seasons each:

Kershaw - 166-71, 2.41, 159 ERA+, 4.27 K/BB, 2.70 FIP, 1.006 WHIP, 3 Cy Youngs
Koufax - 165-87, 2.76, 131 ERA+, 2.93 K/BB, 2.69 FIP, 1.106 WHIP, 3 Cy Youngs

Koufax's Cy Youngs were across both leagues, but the number of extra teams that involved was only a handful.

clemenza, Wednesday, 21 August 2019 16:58 (one year ago) link

Also: big WAR advantage to Kershaw (65 to 53), big postseason advantage to Koufax (only a third as many innings, though).

clemenza, Wednesday, 21 August 2019 17:01 (one year ago) link

kershaw a better hitter, but it's a pretty low bar

mookieproof, Wednesday, 21 August 2019 17:16 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

I don’t think we’ll get anywhere, but I’ll give this another go.

But it's a 'season' that has lasted 12 years (so far) and he literally is not the same kind of pitcher now as he was at the beginning. So, not a season.
― a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius)

Tried to get my head around this and couldn’t. We’re comparing two sets of numbers: Clayton Kershaw, regular-season pitcher, vs. Clayton Kershaw, postseason pitcher. The particulars of how and when they were compiled seem beside the point to me, because it’s the same guy and the same time-frame. Anytime you make a general statement about a guy’s career, you’re talking about that player at many different stages of that career. But you don’t start chopping up the career into smaller segments for the purpose of...I don’t know what the purpose would be. “Willie Mays was a great baseball player”--that’s a general statement that encompasses the 1951 Willie Mays, the MVP of ’54 and ’65, and the barely-hanging-on gate attraction of 1973. The statement stands, though--you don’t need to clarify it any more than that, just like I don’t see any need to start micro-analyzing the statement “Clayton Kershaw has been a mediocre postseason pitcher” (and don’t really get why you’re so invested in doing so).

As for the "pressing" theory, when he threw 8 scoreless against ATL last year in the DS last year, why didn't he press that night?

As I wrote in the same post, I don’t know what’s behind Kershaw’s postseason troubles--the pressing theory is just that, a theory that makes sense to me. It wouldn’t preclude the occasional good or even great outing, though.

clemenza, Friday, 11 October 2019 13:21 (one year ago) link

Kershaw does have some pretty amazing company on one list:

Worst ERA when facing elimination (Min. 20 IP):

Tim Wakefield - 6.75
Clayton Kershaw - 5.77
Roger Clemens - 5.28
Pedro Martinez - 5.17

(Not sure how many innings you're talking about with Clemens and Martinez--I'm guessing Kershaw's logged a few more.)

clemenza, Friday, 11 October 2019 13:30 (one year ago) link

chokers all!

“Clayton Kershaw has been a mediocre postseason pitcher”

Overall, that is a true statement, and I don't think anyone is saying otherwise.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 11 October 2019 16:25 (one year ago) link

and Willie Mays had his best postseason at age 40

so hang on for redemption, Clayton.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 11 October 2019 16:29 (one year ago) link

Conversely, I've never once used words like "choker" or "character" as an explanation for any of this--you kind of implied that that's where I was coming from last year, and it's simply not true.

I posted something similar yesterday; assuming he's around for another five or six seasons, I think Kershaw will eventually have a postseason similar to Price's last year (which I loved).

clemenza, Friday, 11 October 2019 16:46 (one year ago) link

no clem, I'm caricaturing the sound of the mob (ie the worst online Dodgers fans). sorry if you thought otherwise.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 11 October 2019 16:47 (one year ago) link

Kershaw 2.0 is definitely a different player than Kershaw 1.0, his curveball is flatter and hangs a bit more in the strike zone. His new pitch (slurvy-slider) doesn't have enough zip, and his fastball is uh...

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 11 October 2019 17:43 (one year ago) link

someone somewhere was noting that his fastball and slider are now only 3mph apart -- throwing a harder fastball seems unlikely, but perhaps slowing down the slider would do enough to upset timing

mookieproof, Friday, 11 October 2019 18:44 (one year ago) link

(xpost) Fair enough.

I read that he's held in such high esteem by his teammates, they were going above and beyond when it came to consoling him.

clemenza, Friday, 11 October 2019 19:09 (one year ago) link

Interesting piece for a couple of days ago:

It falls about halfway on things we've been kicking around here: important metrics that are almost the same for him in the regular- and post-season (strikeout and walk rate), one that's much worse (HR).

It does give credence to the idea that it may be tied in with "the little voice in the back of your head":

That’s the math of the situation; it can’t change the feeling, though, the little voice in the back of your head that says “Hey, are you ready for this?” every time Kershaw pitches in October. And if the voice is in your head, you can be sure it’s in Kershaw’s too, every time he gives up a home run or a chain of singles. Is this all luck? Could it possibly be luck? How can it keep happening to me? Am I tipping my pitches? Pressing too hard? Not pressing hard enough?

Saying that someone might be pressing is, to me, just the flip side of saying clutch-hitting doesn't exist. (Which I agree with, although I'd allow that there are probably very isolated cases of players who do consistently perform well under pressure--an argument for somewhere else.) Sabermetrics doesn't buy clutch-hitting because a) the evidence isn't there, and b) why would it be?--you'd have to believe that athletes have some magical ability to change their abilities at key moments. But I also believe that athletes don't have magical abilities to not fall prey to something very human: that doubt creeps in when you don't succeed a few times in the same situation. It doesn't mean that you don't occasionally succeed--get a big hit, pitch a good game--just that the doubt lingers if you also keep back-stepping, and continues to linger until you definitively close that door, like Price did last year. I don't think Kershaw has done that yet. But I think he will at some point.

clemenza, Sunday, 13 October 2019 18:15 (one year ago) link

Believing in clutchness doesn't have to be tied in to a belief that someone can do it over an extended period of time. Someone can be clutch on a given day, where they do something they might not have done on another day because they were in a different frame of mind or they told themselves definitively, "I am going to do this now and I am not going to take no for an answer." I think that kind of stuff happens all the time.

timellison, Sunday, 13 October 2019 23:06 (one year ago) link

ten months pass...

He's pretty dominant every which way this season. Did he make some change that's returned him to what he was five years ago, or is he just having a good run? Five of his six starts have been good-to-great.

clemenza, Saturday, 5 September 2020 17:55 (seven months ago) link

four weeks pass...

In a day of a billion I Told You So's, I thought for sure there'd be one from Morbius on this thread.

clemenza, Saturday, 3 October 2020 03:50 (six months ago) link

saw v little of Kershaw game tbh

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 3 October 2020 15:38 (six months ago) link

Playoff Kershaw returned last night with a typical performance ... dominated into the 6th and started serving up longballs (although he made a good pitch to Machado).

NoTimeBeforeTime, Thursday, 8 October 2020 07:22 (six months ago) link

roberts needs to treat kershaw like any other playoff starting pitcher - first sign of trouble, get him out of there. no need to go through the lineup a 3rd time.

president of my cat (Karl Malone), Thursday, 8 October 2020 14:49 (six months ago) link

six months pass...

Two excellent starts after that dreadful first one. I didn't know Baseball Reference had a player-to-player comparison feature that saves you all the work. Kershaw and Koufax have pitched almost exactly the same number of innings at this point (Kershaw's pitched ~25 more).

Unless you factor in postseason, hard to not to give that to Kershaw.

clemenza, Monday, 12 April 2021 18:30 (two days ago) link

Sorry but Koufax has 9 saves.

Van Horn Street, Monday, 12 April 2021 20:46 (two days ago) link

damn, he's a fireman!

Zach_TBD (Karl Malone), Monday, 12 April 2021 21:07 (two days ago) link

Their opposing-batter slash line is almost identical: .209/.261/.319 for Kershaw, .205/.275/.319 for Koufax.

clemenza, Monday, 12 April 2021 21:58 (two days ago) link

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