After allowing five runs on eight hits over four innings of work in his last outing, Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter, voiced his displeasure with his performance, even though it was just another Spring Training start.
“Not great. Not a lot of positives,” Kershaw said Tuesday. “Just gotta keep going [and] figure it out.”
With hopes of “figuring it out,” Kershaw started in a “B” game against the Brewers at Camelback Ranch on Sunday. The purpose behind Kershaw pitching in a “B” game was to get better control of just how many innings he pitched and to give Tony Gonsolin, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, the start against the Giants.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, Kershaw struck out six and walked one over 5 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs on four hits and threw 73 pitches, 51 for strikes.
“He was good,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I think Clayton is always going to be striving for perfection. I thought the fastball command, life was much better than it was last turn. The slider, really good. And the curveball. I thought it was positive overall.”
One area where Kershaw needs to show improvement heading into the season is his velocity. Kershaw has been around 88-91 mph with his fastball during the spring. It was around 87-88 mph in his last start.
In his first outing last spring, Kershaw hit 93 and was in the 91-92 mph area during that start. His average velocity on the four-seamer last season was 91.6 mph. Kershaw’s next spring appearance will come Friday against the A’s, his last tuneup before he takes the mound on Opening Day on April 1 against the Rockies.
“With him, I think it’s more delivery and making sure — he’s very in tune with his body and his delivery,” said Roberts. “If something is out of whack, he’s very cognizant of it. But again, I thought today he threw the ball well. … I thought today was much improved from that last outing.”
For the first time this spring, Gonsolin got the start in a Cactus League game and the right-hander continued to put together a solid spring despite the Dodgers’ 10-4 loss to the Giants. Gonsolin allowed three runs and struck out five over 4 1/3 innings. Most importantly he didn’t walk anyone, which has been a point of emphasis for him this spring.
“I’m just trying to throw a lot of strikes with all my pitches,” Gonsolin said. “[I’m] not trying to be too fine. If they hit it, they hit it.”
With a rotation spot up for grabs, Gonsolin said a big difference for him over the offseason was just the level of intensity he threw his bullpen sessions. His workouts and cardio work remained the same, but Gonsolin said he threw bullpens with “more intent.” That has paid off so far this spring as he has limited opposing hitters to a .118 batting average.
“The body just feels better,” Gonsolin said. “I was able to get used to doing things hard earlier so that I’m not feeling as terrible in between outings. I think that’s how it’s been beneficial.”
With two spots up for grabs, Gonsolin is competing with Julio Urías, David Price and Dustin May for a spot in the rotation. Gonsolin showed last year that he’s more than capable, posting a 2.31 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts). Gonsolin will likely get one more appearance this spring.
“Tony was really good,” Roberts said. “He made two mistakes with the fastball … but outside of that, I thought the slider, the change, the fastball command [were] really good today.”
• Kenley Jansen also pitched in Sunday’s “B” game and faced two hitters. The Dodgers’ closer has been solid this spring, striking out 10 over six innings.
• Corey Seager continued his hot hitting, smashing a long blast off Giants left-hander Scott Kazmir in the first inning. Seager has six home runs this spring, which leads the Cactus League.
• Joe Kelly threw a bullpen session on Sunday, but the right-hander is still a ways away from getting into a game. Kelly will still need to go through a few bullpen sessions before facing live hitters. Unless something changes quickly, Kelly’s status for Opening Day is doubtful.
Trevor Bauer will get the start for the Dodgers as they host the Mariners for a night game on Monday, with first pitch slated for 6:40 p.m. PT. Bauer is 1-0 with a 2.03 ERA in four appearances (three starts) this spring.