Slowdown: Dodgers unconcerned by velocity dips from Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen

first_imgLOS ANGELES – The Dodgers have leaned heavily on Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen during their postseason runs the past few years.That, as much as the numbers themselves, make it noteworthy that both pitchers showed decreased velocity in their regular season debuts. In his opening day start, Kershaw’s fastball averaged 91 mph, two ticks off his career average. That continued a trend from spring training (even as Kershaw posted a 0.00 spring ERA).And Friday night, Jansen never topped 89 mph in his first inning of the season – an inning that included Joe Panik crushing an 89 mph cutter for the winning home run and joining Paul Goldschmidt as the only players to homer off both Jansen and Kershaw in the same season. Jansen’s cut fastball (which he throws 92 percent of the time) has averaged 93 mph during his career.In both cases, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the slowdown can be explained and is not setting off alarm bells. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season In Kershaw’s case, it could just be the natural evolution of a pitcher who just turned 30 and has more than 2,000 innings on his arm. By Fangraphs’ measure, Kershaw’s average fastball velocity has declined each of the past three years – from 93.6 in 2015 to 93.1 in 2016 and a career-low 92.7 last year.“I don’t know,” Kershaw said when asked about Thursday’s 91 mph average. “I’d always like to throw harder. I’d like to throw 100 if you let me.”Jansen did not handle questions about his velocity with as much humor as Kershaw. Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire center_img Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start The Dodgers closer responded “Who cares?” to questions about his failure to top 90 mph after the loss Friday night. Roberts offered an explanation that a dip in velocity is almost always associated with a problem in Jansen’s delivery.Jansen rejected that explanation in the emotion following Friday’s loss. But Saturday afternoon, he was in the Dodgers’ bullpen early working on those mechanics. He acknowledged that he was “out of sync” Friday.“I was trying too hard yesterday,” he said. “It’s like I was young again and was trying to impress, know what I’m saying? I’m not an excuse guy but – first time out after a World Series, this is a learning process too.“It was nothing. I was out of sync. If I figure it out today, you might see 94 and everybody will be like, ‘Why didn’t you do that yesterday?’ People don’t understand. Sometimes your mechanics are out of whack.”It could be “a minor little thing” that puts Jansen’s delivery back in order, Roberts said, and Jansen offered that he had made an adjustment with the way he lifted his front leg.“There have been times when my mechanics are off and I punch out three guys,” Jansen said. “I get away with it. Last night, I didn’t get away with it.”DAY OFFRoberts gave shortstop Corey Seager the day off Saturday, part of a plan to remain mindful of Seager’s elbow issues last season. For his part, Seager said his elbow feels fine and he has had no pain this spring. The Dodgers eased him into spring training, playing him at DH deep into the Cactus League schedule, and Roberts said he intended to give Seager – and each of the Dodgers’ regulars – a day off in the first week of the season.“It just makes sense for his elbow, his body, just kind of getting back in game shape,” Roberts said. “My goal is before the first off day (on Thursday), try to give each of these guys a day off.”With Seager out, Kiké Hernandez started at shortstop, Logan Forsythe moved to second base and Kyle Farmer made his first big-league start at third base. Roberts said the alignment was planned before Forsythe made three errors at third base in Friday’s loss and was not a response to that. Forsythe was the first Dodger to make three errors in a game since Dee Gordon made three at shortstop on August 11, 2013 against the Tampa Bay Rays.“That’ll be the last time, I can assure you, that will happen to Logan,” Roberts said. “Just one of those nights – one I’m sure he wants to forget.”UP NEXT: Giants RHP Chris Stratton (4-4, 3.68 ERA in 2017) at Dodgers LHP Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32 ERA in 2017), 5:30 p.m., ESPN Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies “I think with Clayton there is a little bit of a down tick in velocity,” Roberts said. “Still the swings that guys are taking on him, his command all throughout the spring, the secondary pitches have all been sharp. If you’re looking at strictly velocity with Clayton, I’m really not too concerned about it.“There’s obviously a little more with Kenley. The thing for us is if Kenley says he’s healthy and the training staff and the strength staff say he’s healthy, he’ll be fine. He misfired last night. I know he was frustrated. No one cares more than Kenley. … He was a guy two days after the World Series who was running stairs. So no one cares more than Kenley. There will be an uptick in velocity at some point. As long as he’s healthy and Clayton’s healthy, we’re not too concerned.”Related Articleslast_img read more

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