Did Don Mattingly Cost the Dodgers $215 M?

On October 7, 2013, with the Dodgers up two games to one over the Braves in the NL Division Series, with game four at Dodgers’ Stadium, and with dual aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke primed and ready for their regular turns should there be a game five, I wrote the following:

“…the empty uniform non-manager Don Mattingly has made perhaps the biggest decision of his Dodgers’ career, moving Clayton Kershaw up a day in the rotation, starting him on short rest for the first time ever, and bypassing Ricky Nolasco. Not the right move on so many fronts.



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“Even should Kershaw lead the team to victory, that would not make up for the potential long range damage the move may cause.”

Before Oct. 7, Kershaw had never in his career pitched on only three days’ rest, and in his previous outing on Oct. 3 had thrown the unusually high number of 124 pitches. Well, Keshaw started on Oct. 7, pitched six innings giving up three runs, as the Dodgers beat the Braves 4-3 to win the series.

Kershaw next pitched in the League Championship

Series against St. Louis on regular rest on Oct. 12 and though he pitched well, he and the Dodgers lost the game to St. Louis. His final 2013 outing was the ill-fated final game of the Championship Series when he was hit very hard by the Cardinals, ten hits and seven earned runs in only four innings, as St. Louis won 9-0.

Over the winter, the Dodgers and Kershaw agreed to a monumental seven-year contract for $215 M. Clearly, management never considered any long range effects from Oct. 7.

Well, as Spring Training 2014 and the Grapefruit League season are in full swing, Kershaw has now pitched in two games, and the results are extremely worrisome. Hit hard in each game, he has pitched only four spring innings, giving up eight runs, all earned, with seven hits and four walks. His overall totals in four games since Oct. 7, are 14 innings pitched, 19 hits allowed, 15 earned
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runs for an ERA of 9.64, and seven walks against 14 strike outs. His strike out to walk ratio of two-to-one is bad enough, but it looks far worse when compared to his lifetime four-to-one ratio.

Kershaw may pitch brilliantly over the rest of the spring and for the next dozen regular seasons. Or, he may never again be the pitcher he was before Oct. 7, 2013. Only time will tell.

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