3 Dodgers players who could be hurt by the new MLB rule changes
Let's just say we're extremely relieved not to have to include Kenley Jansen on this list; the former Dodgers closer is currently at Boston Red Sox camp adjusting his unique delivery to the incoming pitch clock. Godspeed.
There are a few problems remaining at Dodgers camp, though, thanks to MLB's relentless new rules, including (but not limited to) larger bases, a limit of two pickoff throws, anti-shifting mandates, and yes, that intimidating countdown clock before every pitch is delivered.
Meant to speed up the game and increase the amount of action, MLB's rule changes should result in more stolen bases, added pressure on the pitcher, and a change in expectations for balls put in play. Fans will have to relearn portions of the game from the '80s and '00s. Think that hotshot into right field is getting easily gobbled up by a second baseman standing 200 feet away from the plate on the grass? Think again.
Based on the data at hand, these three Dodgers will likely have the toughest time adjusting to their new reality.
3 Dodgers players who could be negatively impacted by pitch clock, shift ban
Clayton Kershaw, LHP
Kershaw has long been one of MLB's foremost pickoff artists, taking the torch from Andy Pettitte (and the generation of left-handers before him) and running with it. He even showed off his special skill on the big stage last summer, when Shohei Ohtani got a bit too greedy in the All-Star Game and quickly found the tag slapped on his back. Advantage, Kershaw.
Starting this year, though, the 35-year-old Kershaw will get fewer chances to prove his supremacy. In other words, he'd better pick his pickoffs wisely.
Kershaw, the NL's leader in successful pickoffs from 2010-2012, hasn't emphasized the move quite as much as he's aged, nabbing just a pair of baserunners last season. This year, he'll only be able to step off the mound and throw over to first twice per plate appearance. That means setups, jukes, lobs to first, whips to the base ... he's only got two shots to make it work before the runner has free rein of second base, knowing full well the Dodgers' ace isn't coming. A third, unsuccessful attempt at a pickoff results in an automatic balk. You'd better be sure.
The crafty veteran should be able to overcome the handicap, but his new strategy might take some getting used to.