The Los Angeles Dodgers are heading into one of their most exciting Spring Training camps in a long time. Last year, most of the cogs in the machine came together and began working in harmony for the first time in a while, thanks to the leadership of Don Mattingly and the consistency of Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw has been the team workhorse and arguably the best pitcher in the league over the last few seasons. However, he recently stated that he would be happy to trade his Cy Young Awards for World Series rings. He’s hungry for real winning, not just individual trophies and eternal praise. That means having a smart Spring Training and another consistently dominant season.
Mattingly plans on monitoring Kershaw’s workload this season a bit more carefully as they consider making a deep postseason run. Kershaw should not have to be the guy who carries the entire team this year. After throwing just 25 pitches against minor league hitters on Sunday, Kershaw seemed to feel good and confident. Mattingly plans on spreading out Kershaw’s starts at the beginning of the season.
The Dodgers’ rotation has the potential to be one of the best in the league this season. Led by Kershaw and barring any injuries, the Dodgers plan to throw Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren in their rotation. Josh Beckett will also see some semi-consistent starts depending on his early performances, but he could end up being a very important starter.
Kershaw pitched in 236 inning in 2013, second to only Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals. That being said, he had the lowest ERA in the majors at 1.83. That’s very impressive, but it’ll be hard to keep that trend going. We learned all about that from Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander — although his rumored rekindled relationship with Kate Upton may help this season.
Kershaw, on the other hand, had a recent cameo on Fox’s New Girl where he attempted to hit on Zooey Deschanel’s character Jessica Day, who didn’t believe he was a pitcher for the Dodgers.
Kershaw’s personal life aside, the name of the game this season for Kershaw and Mattingly is going to be controlled dominance. They want him to stay the workhorse, but dial it back whenever they can to save him for big games in the postseason. That all starts with a good Spring Training to get a sense of what Kershaw’s arm looks like, and how to best utilize his greatness.