Clayton Kershaw made his first start of the 2022 season for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins, and after seven innings of work with 13 strikeouts, manager Dave Roberts pulled him from the game.
Roberts’ decision sparked heated debates on both sides of the internet.
The perfect game in baseball is as sacred as it gets, with only 23 instances in MLB history of a pitcher not allowing any batter to reach base while retiring all 27 batters faced.
A no-hitter is much more common; in MLB history, there have been 314 no-hitters, and Kershaw has one on his resume.
When Kershaw was pulled from the game in Minnesota after only 80 pitches and with the Dodgers leading 6-0 after Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux, and Austin Barnes hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the top half of the eighth inning, baseball fans felt cheated.
The Dodgers and Roberts have a greater goal in mind.
Kershaw, 34, is entering his 15th season as a pitcher and is coming off an arm injury that cut his season short.
Roberts’ decision to understand the importance of a long season ahead and a shorter spring due to the lockout was defended by the three-time Cy Young Award winner and one-time MVP.
Kershaw may have fought the decision to remove him from the game in the past, but his latest performance should give everyone hope that one of the game’s best pitchers still has a lot more to offer, and the Dodgers need him now more than ever.
Kershaw was signed to a one-year deal by the Dodgers this offseason, bringing him back for all the right reasons, as the franchise’s face for more than a decade.
That decision was not going to be swayed by the injury history of the previous few seasons.
In 2022, the Dodgers will be without Max Scherzer, who signed as a free agent with the New York Mets this offseason, and Trevor Bauer, who may not pitch another game for the team due to off-field issues.
Kershaw, even at the end of his career, is a better option than most to fill out the Dodgers’ starting rotation behind Walker Buehler and Julio Urias heading into the new season.
Kershaw’s dominant performance against the Twins was reminiscent of his 2014 CY Young Award and MVP season.
The decision to pull Kershaw out of the game has gotten a lot of attention, and properly so; every baseball fan has a short-sighted perspective and wants to witness the perfect game.
After all, the Dodgers want to win another World Series, and Kershaw’s health provides them the greatest opportunity to accomplish so.
If Kershaw’s performance is a harbinger of things to come, we may have another opportunity to see perfection later in the season.