Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw made Max Kepler look foolish in 2022 debut

Adam Weinrib
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 13: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of the game at Target Field on April 13, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 13: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of the game at Target Field on April 13, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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All offseason long, Los Angeles Dodgers fans waited for the word on whether Clayton Kershaw would be returning to continue his incredible career in Dodger Blue, or whether he’d opted to move on to Raising Canes — sorry, the Texas Rangers.

Once he agreed to return to LA on a one-year pact, those same fans didn’t have to wait nearly as long to get some reassurance that he’s healthy and bringing his typical fire and slidepiece to the 2022 season.

Kershaw’s 2021 campaign ended prematurely, with his absence ranking right alongside Max Muncy’s as an unsung reason that the season ended early. He didn’t pitch in the postseason after missing 10 weeks between July and mid-September, then came up lame once again on Oct. 1 and declared his season over as he attempted to rehab his elbow.

2022? So far, different story. Kershaw’s first start of the season on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins has been vintage thus far.

In case there were any doubts that he’d maintain his famous breaking stuff in ’22, Twins slugger Max Kepler proved them wrong, swinging waaaaaayyyyyy over a slider in the other box. One game in, one all-time highlight already logged.

Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw buzzsaws Twins in 2022 debut

His first strikeout of the game came on a breaker in the dirt against all-world outfielder Byron Buxton, who had no answer for the Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

That whiff was one of seven Kershaw racked up through the game’s first four innings on just 46 pitches.

It’s not like the Twins don’t have a potent lineup, either! Though many MLB fans deride the franchise for routinely coming up short against the Yankees in the playoffs, the 2022 roster looks a lot more like 2019’s fearsome Bomba Squad rather than another feckless group of wannabes.

Kershaw still has to make it through the season relatively unscathed for the campaign to be a success, but the stuff seems untarnished. If he can stay healthy, he’s got a superstar season in that left arm.

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