Utley: Kershaw Is A Guy I Would Bet On

Clayton Kershaw might not be as dominant as he once was, but he can still be one of the top pitchers in the game

Tiki and Tierney
July 14, 2020 - 6:54 pm

In 2019, Clayton Kershaw had a 3.03 ERA. For most pitchers, that’s a career year. For Kershaw, it was his worst ERA since 2008. He has also averaged 25.5 starts over the last four years, this after averaging 31.6 starts over the previous seven years.

Is Kershaw, 32, still the pitcher he once was?

“Well, I think with every athlete, as you age, things start to change, and the good ones are able to adapt and figure out ways to continue to have similar success,” six-time All-Star Chase Utley said on Tiki & Tierney. “Kershaw is a guy that, if I was a betting man, he would be a guy that I would bet on. His reputation speaks for itself, but he works extremely hard. He’s always trying to figure out ways to improve, and that’s what’s going to keep him in the big leagues at a high level for a number of more years. I’m confident in what he’s able to do.”

Utley, who won a World Series with the Phillies, spent his final three-plus seasons in Los Angeles. He got to see Kershaw up close and personal and was impressed with what he saw.

“He doesn’t throw 96 miles an hour anymore like the young guys do,” Utley said, “but he still has a wipeout slider, a great curveball, and he can throw his fast ball where he wants. Health is important for him, and for watching him over the past three, three-and-a-half years, he takes it seriously, and he’s always looking for ways to stay healthy and get better.”

Kershaw is 169-74 with a 2.44 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 12 seasons. He is closing in on 2,500 career strikeouts and has won three Cy Young awards.

He is, in short, one of the best pitchers of his generation, if not the best.

“I faced him a number of times when I was with the Phillies, and it was not a comfortable at-bat whatsoever, to be honest with you,” Utley said. “He knows what he’s doing. He has a game plan for every hitter. His slider is a pitch that, for me, when I faced him, I could not recognize. I could not recognize the spin on that pitch, and I’ve heard that from a lot of different guys across the league. It’s just a pitch that you don’t see. You think it’s a fast ball and then you start to swing and you realize, ‘Oops, that’s not a fast ball.’ And then you swing and miss. So he’s a guy, like I said before, you’re rooting for, you’re playing defense behind him – you take your game to another level when he’s on the mound.”