Picking Mattingly’s Brain About Kershaw’s Ability [From a Hitter’s Perspective]

Everyone knows who Don Mattingly is; not many know, I guess, that he’s a very intelligent baseball guy. I was taken aback when he just opened up this conversation with me about what makes Kershaw so effective.

Here’s what he had to say about Clayton Kershaw’s performance, and skill set, tonight and for his career since coming up.

[Clayton] can use his breaking ball, he used his change up tonight, and his curveball is always there.

How much of Kershaw’s efficiency tonight was because of the line-up he faced?

These guys were pretty aggressive, but you still gotta throw the ball in the strike zone. That’s really the biggest difference, is establishing fastball counts all the time and now Kershaw is at the point as much as he throws a slider for a strike, he throws a slider for a chase (when the batter swings at a ball); he throws a breaking ball for a strike, he throws a breaking ball for a chase. He works both sides of the plate and to me that’s the evolution for him. Coming up, watching him as a young kid, he was one side of the plate and now he’s both.

He went from being a fastball-curveball guy to being a fastball-curveball-slider-change. When you’re [on the receiving end] of four weapons as a hitter, you have to start picking sides of the plate, you’re gonna try to eliminate pitches, but with Kershaw, you can’t do it.

I wish I asked more questions, guess I’ll have to settle for this and wait ’til my next interview.

More from Kershaw coming tomorrow.

Here’s some more comments from Donnie Baseball:

Seems like usually with good pitchers you have to get to them early. If you don’t, they get settled. The Cubs had their chance and Kershaw was able to get the big out in that first and then basically stopped them from there.

When you get to [their pitcher] early with Kershaw it helps too. You know, they get the run early and from there he pretty much stopped them. We were able to get back in the game. Ivan’s hit down the line with two outs … he gets that hit and then Jerry’s big hit there too so it kind of opened it up.

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