Dodgers Dugout: Taking Clayton Kershaw out was the right call

Clayton Kershaw
(Craig Lassig / Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and in two games, the Dodgers went from being on pace to win 54 games to being on pace to win 97 games.

The big news from the two-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins wasn’t the reawakening offense, it was Dave Roberts removing Clayton Kershaw from Wednesday’s game after seven perfect innings.

Debate has been heavy on social media on whether this was the right thing to do.

In the past, I have criticized Roberts for removing Ross Stripling while he was pitching a no-hitter. And remember, this is the same Roberts who let Rich Hill pitch into the 10th inning with a no-hitter.

In this case, Roberts made the right call.

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Kershaw is coming off a major arm injury. He did not even pick up a baseball for three months in the offseason to protect his arm. He had a shortened spring training because of the lockout. He was pushed back to pitching Wednesday so he could build up arm strength. He has a history of arm and back problems. And it was 38 degrees in the stadium.

Even Kershaw, not known for being shy at sharing his honest opinion, agreed: “This was the right choice. Earlier in my career, I’d be built up to 100 pitches. Blame it on the lockout, blame it on me not picking up a baseball until January, but my slider was horrible the last two innings. It didn’t have the bite. It was time. I wanted to do it with Barnesy (catcher Austin Barnes), that’d be special, but at the end of the day those are individual things. Those are selfish goals, and we’re trying to win. That’s really all we’re here for, and as much as I would’ve wanted to do it, I’ve thrown 75 pitches in a sim[ulated] game. I hadn’t gone six innings, let alone seven this spring. Sure, I would’ve loved to do it, but maybe I’ll get another chance. Who knows?”

Some readers told me that Sandy Koufax would have finished the game. True. And Koufax retired at 30 because of an elbow injury. Or that this affects Kershaw’s legacy. Well, Kershaw’s legacy is secure.

Yes, he would have had a chance to do what had been done only 23 times before. But quick, can you name all the pitchers who have thrown a perfect game? He would have joined immortals such as Dallas Braden and Phil Humber.

Look, as a fan, I get it. It’s disappointing to see someone not get a chance to pitch a perfect game. But if you take a step back, take the emotion out of it and make the best decision for the team and for Kershaw, it was the right move considering the circumstances.


Here’s Bill Plaschke’s take on the situation.

It’s time for the home opener

Tonight is the home opener for the Dodgers. The national anthem will be sung by Lupita Infante and there will be a flyover from two F-35 planes. The first pitch will be thrown by Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrín. Players representing each decade of Dodger Stadium’s existence will accompany Jarrín.

Gates open at 4:10 p.m.

Historic moment

While I am always hesitant to praise the Giants for anything, this deserves mention. Giants coach Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to coach on the field in a major-league game in the Giants-Padres game on Tuesday.

Nakken took over as the Giants’ first-base coach in the top of the third after regular coach Antoan Richardson was ejected.

“Our first-base coach got thrown out,” Nakken said. “I’ve been in training as a first-base coach for the last few years. I work alongside Antoan, so I stepped into what I’ve been hired to do.

“Everybody can just see that there are a lot of opportunities in baseball. Sometimes I think we always limit ourselves to thinking what we could do. At least that’s my experience. I never thought that I could do something like this because I never saw it. So I think, sure, it’s certainly important for people to be able to see that this is an opportunity and they can see somebody that kind of looks like them going out there and coaching in the big leagues.”

And though this is a Dodgers newsletter and this isn’t about the Dodgers, some moments transcend all of that. This is one of those moments.

Trevor Bauer update

Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave has been extended until April 22. It was originally set to end Sunday. He originally went on leave July 2. The league is continuing to investigate Bauer and the expectation remains that he will be suspended and that he won’t pitch for the Dodgers again.

Viewing reminder

Friday’s game is on Apple TV+ and will not be on Sportsnet LA. You will have to subscribe to Apple TV+ in order to watch. MLB reached deals in the offseason to show selected Friday games on Apple TV+ and selected Sunday games on Peacock. Whenever the Dodgers are selected to appear on those streaming services, you will not be able to watch the game on Sportsnet LA.

Your prediction

Results of our recent survey of Dodgers Dugout readers, after 14,786 votes.

How many games will the Dodgers win this season?

95-99: 43.9%
100 or more: 37.4%
90-94: 14.1%
85-89: 2.8%
81-84: 1.1%
They will finish under .500: 0.7%

Will they win the division?

Yes, 87.1%
No, 12.9%

Will they win the World Series?

Yes, 59.9%
No, 40.1%

Thanks for voting.

Up next

Tonight: Cincinnati (Luis Cessa) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler), 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020
Friday: Cincinnati (Vladimir Gutiérrez) at Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin), 7 p.m., Apple+, AM 570, KTNQ 1020
Saturday: Cincinnati (Hunter Greene) at Dodgers (*Julio Urías), 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020
Sunday: Cincinnati (Tyler Mahle) at Dodgers (*Andrew Heaney), 1 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020


Stories you might have missed

Freddie Freeman crafted his swing with help from father of another Dodgers star

And finally

Highlights from Clayton Kershaw’s masterful performance. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.