Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw might want to pick up speed – but is it necessary?

first_img How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies LAS VEGAS — Clayton Kershaw might feel a need for speed. But the Dodgers don’t necessarily share it.When Kershaw signed his contract extension with the Dodgers in November, he said he planned on “proving a lot of people wrong” if they think he is in decline. Part of his plan to make that happen is to regain some velocity on his fastball.Last season, Kershaw’s heater averaged a tepid 90.9 mph – the lowest of his career and the continuation of a four-year downward trend that coincided with his recurring back injuries.Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he wouldn’t bet against Kershaw – but he doesn’t think it’s necessary for Kershaw to regain velocity to maintain his standing among baseball’s best pitchers. “It’s interesting. I had this conversation with a couple people,” Friedman said recently. “Yeah, I certainly think there is a scenario where he is throwing harder next year. I don’t think he necessarily needs to (in order) to dominate or be really good.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.“The only thing I would say to someone trying to get velocity back is to just make sure the potential upside is worth the potential costs of doing it. I think there is a dominant version of Clayton Kershaw that doesn’t necessarily throw harder.”Friedman reiterated that Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, saying improved velocity would give Kershaw “more margin for error.” Kershaw has given up 40 home runs in the past two seasons after averaging 11.7 per season through his first nine years.“If you look at last year and how well he pitched and I would bet on his stuff, his execution being better next year – and he had that much success,” Friedman said of Kershaw, whose 2.73 ERA and 1.04 WHIP last season were among the best in the National League.“Whether that’s all in velocity or mixing pitches – whatever it is – I will bet on him next year. And I just don’t think it’s all tied to fastball velocity.” Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco Friedman said he has had “conversations” with Kershaw about it and Kershaw is focused on “working on his body” and mechanics. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called it “a body-biodynamic kind of situation” that will allow Kershaw to regain some velocity at age 31 next year.“There’s so much data now, body movement and things and how you could be kind of out of whack with your mechanics that you can kind of work on and work through, that it’s in there,” Roberts said. “The No. 1 thing for me is his work ethic, his desire, and he’s healthy.”TRADE TALKThe Dodgers have been actively engaged on a number of fronts looking to swing a trade that would clear away some of the overcrowding in their outfield and at starting pitcher.Cincinnati Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams acknowledged Tuesday that his team was among those talking to the Dodgers.“We’ve had conversations with the Dodgers and there have been a variety of permutations,” Williams told reporters. “I’m not going to get into what we’ve talked about.”Neither would Friedman. But outfielder Yasiel Puig appears to be central to some of those “permutations,” a move that would reunite him with hitting coach Turner Ward.The Dodgers could certainly use second baseman Scooter Gennett. But Friedman has never mentioned second base as an area of need this offseason – despite the Dodgers’ 2018 second basemen combining to hit .209 (last in the majors), with a .332 slugging percentage (29th) and .638 OPS (28th). For their part, the Reds do not appear anxious to part with Gennett and it would take much more than Puig to pry him away.SUNDAY FUN-DAYSESPN has released the first wave of matchups chosen for Sunday Night Baseball in 2019. The Dodgers are featured four times – April 7 at Colorado, June 16 at home against the Cubs, July 14 at Boston and Aug. 25 at home against the Yankees.Start times for the nationally-televised games will be moved up to 4 p.m. PT next season. However, the April 7 game at Coors Field will start at 5:30 p.m.UTLEY UPDATERecently-retired Chase Utley is in Las Vegas and joining the Dodgers’ contingent to get a taste of how the baseball operations department works during the Winter Meetings. Friedman has said on multiple occasions he wants to keep Utley in the organization in some capacity.“I’m confident we’ll work something out,” Friedman said Tuesday.ALSOThe Dodgers have hired former Rangers and Orioles coach Scott Coolbaugh to be the hitting coach at Triple-A Oklahoma City next season. It will be a return for Coolbaugh, who was also the hitting coach in Oklahoma City in 2009 and 2010 when it was an affiliate of the Rangers. … Former Dodgers right-hander Brandon McCarthy has taken a job as a special assistant to Rangers GM Jon Daniels. McCarthy was traded to the Atlanta Braves by the Dodgers a year ago and retired following one season with the Braves.Related Articles Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img