Kershaw and Buehler Make Their Spring Debuts
Cover Photo: Kyle Polson - @mlbphotoman on Instagram
Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler made their first starts of Spring Training Friday and Saturday, respectively, and both pitched very well. The goal was for both of them to achieve two innings of work, which may explain why they debuted later than most starters, since most pitchers throw only an inning in their first start. The Dodgers lost to the Brewers Friday, 6-5, but beat the Diamondbacks 7-4 and obliterated the Rockies, beating them 14-2, on Saturday. Brusdar Graterol made his Dodger debut with a scoreless inning agains the Rockies Saturday, while 26-man roster hopefuls Zach McKinstry and Cody Thomas, who hit two home runs in the 11-run fifth inning, continued.
Kershaw didn't achieve his goal of pitching two innings on Friday against the Brewers, but he made up for it by striking out four of the five batters he retired and touching 93 mph with his fastball. Kershaw fanned leadoff man Brock Holt with 3 pitches, setting the tone for his outing. His first inning was incredibly sharp, but he seemingly tired in the 2nd inning, issuing back to back walks and 4 consecutive full counts. However, Clayton said that this Spring is like "night and day" compared to last spring, when he was shut down due to shoulder issues. Kershaw averaged about 90-91 mph on his fastball in 2019, so seeing him hit 93 mph in his first outing of the year was very encouraging and likely a product of his visit to the Driveline Baseball facility in Seattle.
Walker Buehler's outing against the Rockies, whom he always seems to be pitching against, went about as well as it could have. He easily retired 6 batters in order to complete his scheduled two innings. He only recorded two strikeouts, which is a little low for him, but I doubt I would have been impressed if he had struck out anything other than 7 of the 6 batters he faced. Regardless, the method by which he gets batters out doesn't matter. Last year, Buehler was slow-played in Spring Training due to some lingering injury concerns and the team still watching his innings, and it resulting in a shaky start to an incredibly dominant season for him, so I'm excited to see what he can do if he fully ramps up in the Spring and can start the season off on the right foot.
In other news, Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless third in relief of Buehler, and David Price is scheduled to debut for the Dodgers on Monday against the Reds. Yadier Alvarez, the flighty former top pitching prospect, has been scheduled to undergo tests for a mysterious injury and has been DFA'd. It is hard to imagine a future for him that includes the Dodgers, so I imagine another team might snatch him up in the next few days.