John Stolnis and the guys over at numberFire have decided to take a look at the struggles of Clayton Kershaw this season. Of course “struggles” I use in quotations because it’s only been nine starts into the season for Kersh, and he is Clayton Kershaw. He’s won three Cy Young awards, and last season’s MVP. He’s been one of the most dominant pitchers in all of Baseball over the last four seasons. So why has he been so average this year?
I’ve already given my take on it which is that poor pitch sequences, combined with a drop in his off-speed pitches, and an adjustment from the league has definitely played a part. However Stolnis takes a different look, breaking down some different information.
For Stolnis the answer may lie in the fact that Kershaw is giving up too many line drives, and way too base runners. Remember when I said that Kershaw’s hits per nine are nearly two hits higher than his career norm? He’s giving up too many home runs, but his velocity appears to be fine.
Stolnis believes his ERA and other peripherals will stabilize back to his career averages. I think they will too. However my theory still stands. Poor pitch locations, poor pitch sequences, too many fastballs and not enough sliders, and lack of adjustments.
Or maybe Kershaw is just having a down year? After four consecutive historically dominant seasons, he can be forgiven for one down year. What do you think?