How to beat Clayton Kershaw? How about working the umpires?
Washington Nationals Manager Dusty Baker played that angle publicly before Friday’s opener of the National League division series, urging the umpires to watch closely when Kershaw employs his pickoff move.
“I’m hoping we get some base runners,” Baker said, “and the umpires might call a balk or two on him. … I heard that really upsets him if they do call one.”
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said he was unaware of Baker’s comments until reporters asked about them.
“I didn’t know Dusty wanted to play that game,” Roberts said.
The base runners are no sure thing. The Dodgers ace has pitched 15 consecutive scoreless innings at Nationals Park. In his last eight starts against the Nationals, Kershaw is 8-0 with an 0.88 earned-run average.
Since his major league debut in 2008, Kershaw has picked off just about twice as many runners as any other active pitcher, according to Fangraphs
Kershaw was called for three balks this season, one shy of the major league lead.
Baker smiled when asked if he would have a word with the umpires about Kershaw’s pickoff move. No, he said – his first-base coach, Davey Lopes, would do that.
Lopes coached with the Dodgers from 2011-15.
12:05 a.m.: This article has been updated with a quote from Dave Roberts.
This article was initially published at 10:50 a.m.