3. Clayton Kershaw to regain his velocity
A lot of people probably forget that Clayton Kershaw is only 30 years old. For pitchers, Kershaw should be right in his prime and for his level of elite status, should have at least four more years of prime Kershaw left in him.
While he certainly is still effective, he is no longer the same Kershaw that he was a few years ago. Kershaw’s peak (thus far) came in 2014, where he won the National League MVP after tossing 198.1 innings to the tune of a 1.77 ERA.
Kershaw overcame a slow start in 2015 to still finish the season with a career-high 33 starts and 2.13 ERA. That is a career year for anyone not named Clayton Kershaw and would have warranted the Cy Young if it wasn’t for Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke‘s insane years.
Kershaw was great the following year but that is when the problems started to kick in. Despite having a career-best 1.69 season ERA, Kershaw made just 21 starts and started his injury-filled journey to where he is now; boasting a fastball that is five to six miles per hour slower than it was before.
That has changed the way that Kershaw pitches and has made him more susceptible to the long ball. While Kershaw was still effective last year (2.73 ERA) he is not the same Kershaw that we know and love, mostly because of that velocity.
We don’t expect Kershaw to be pumping above 95 consistently but if he could even get his fastball in the 93-95 range, every single pitch, I would be more than happy. Hopefully, he can stay healthy and prove to us that he still has a lot left in the gas tank.