As the Los Angeles Dodgers were set to play the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Monday afternoon, Clayton Kershaw entered the game with a 4-3 lifetime record at the hitter-friendly ballpark and a 4.98 ERA.
Kershaw’s struggles at Coors Field continued on Monday as he surrendered five runs on eleven hits, the most hits he’s allowed in his career, in only five innings worth of work. Despite the shorter than usual outing, Kershaw earned the win and improved his record to 14-8, as momentum swung back and forth between the teams before the Dodgers ultimately hung on for a 10-8 victory.
Monday marked Kershaw’s second consecutive start in which he failed to make it past the sixth inning. Prior to Kershaw’s last two starts, he pitched eight innings in three consecutive starts and threw at least 100 pitches in each of those games, which may be the reason for his recent struggles.
Kershaw’s pitching performances thus far in the 2013 have been nothing short of amazing. Evident by his MLB leading 209 innings pitched, coupled with an MLB best 1.89 ERA, which increased on Monday from 1.72.
With Kershaw appearing to be a little weary and in need of rest, the Dodgers recent acquisition of Edinson Volquez looms large. Volquez is slated to make his Dodgers debut on Wednesday, which will push back Hyun-Jin Ryu’s scheduled start to Friday, giving him two extra days of rest. Volquez’s start will also afford Kershaw and Zack Greinke each with an extra day of rest.
The Dodgers currently have a comfortable lead of 12 1/2 games in the National League West division, and while they have their eyes set on overtaking the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the NL, it is not worth the risk of tiring out the arms of their top three starters. Potentially losing an additional game here or there in order to provide rest for Greinke, Kershaw, and Ryu, will be remembered as necessary when their arms are still lively in October.
The Dodgers have already played themselves into the playoff picture — it’s now time to focus on entering postseason play as healthy as possible.