Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw didn't give up a run in spring training. The down side? It can only get worse from here.
Of course, considering that the ace left-hander is a three-time Cy Young Award winner, that's a relative thing.
Kershaw stretched himself to 6 2/3 innings Friday against the Royals in his final spring outing, a 10-0 victory, and in the process ran his scoreless-innings streak to 21 1/3 innings this camp.
"Everything I've been doing has geared toward keeping my back healthy," Kershaw said (via the Los Angeles Times), referring to issues that sidelined him in 2016 and '17. "Right now, I feel great. I'm excited about that."
Interestingly, Kershaw's velocity has been down a tick this spring, even falling into the upper 80-mph range, but it clearly didn't affect his effectiveness.
"The other day, there were some 87s [mph]," manager Dave Roberts said. "I wouldn't say it's a concern, but obviously Clayton wants to be in the 90-92 mph range. Today was more indicative of what we would expect. Opening day, an extra day [of rest this week], I think it'll be the 90-93 mph."
The Times notes that "a winter of uncertainty awaits Kershaw" after the 2018 season as he can become a free agent for the first time. He has made more than 28 starts in a season only once since 2014.
That's why he is focused on maintaining his health, though he has proved that he can provide quality if not quantity when it comes to starts: He was limited to 27 in 2017, yet he recorded 18 victories, tied for the best in the National League.
"Physically I feel great, which is good," Kershaw said (via The Associated Press). "I've obviously pitched in the playoffs before, but finishing on Nov. 1, you never know how the extra couple of weeks will affect you. I feel good. I'm excited to get going and ready to feel a little bit of adrenaline."
The seven-time All-Star will make his eighth consecutive opening day start Thursday, when the defending NL champion Dodgers host the Giants.