Fuck Coors Field. There’s nothing more I can say about such a god awful place.
Kershaw gave up 11 hits and 5 runs over the course of 5 innings. It was his worst start of the season. Let’s take a look at what was going on and why Coors Field can burn in the depths of hell.
Over the course of the season, Kershaw has been effective against righties. His dominance shows through his two breaking pitches, his slider and his curveball. His slider is thrown primarily to right handed batters as shown by these two heat maps:
As you can see, Kershaw hardly throws his slider to lefties. On Monday, the only lefty batter in the Rockies lineup was Charlie Blackmon. Clayton threw his slider 25 times during the game, 22 of those 25 pitches were against right handed batters. Because of the absolute shittiness of Coors Field, and a smidgen of physics (lol science!), Kershaw’s slider was ineffective.
From this chart, you can see the horizontal movement of Kershaw’s slider. Whereas his slider normally deviates between -5.1 to -2.3 inches off the y-axis from the catcher’s perspective, the environment didn’t allow his slider to gain much movement. His sole outing in September (the last point on this chart) was in Colorado and his slider barely move -1.1 inches in towards the stacked right-handed lineup.
But to really emphasize the shittiness of Coors field, let’s take a look at all his starts this season. May 31st was Kershaw’s first start at Coors this season. He went 7 innings, gave up 8 hits and 3 runs. Again, Colorado stacked the line up with right handed hitters, and again, Kershaw threw his slider 28 out of 29 times to the righties. Up until that day, righties were hitting .120 against his slider. Over the course of his first start in Colorado, righties destroyed his slider by hitting .429 against it.
Up until that start, his slider was getting awesome breaks:
Enter Coors Field and you can see the havoc that the park creates:
His next start in Colorado wouldn’t be until July 2nd. So between June 1st and July 1st, right-handers were batting .269 against Kershaw’s slider. And as you’ll see in the next chart, with the exception of a fluke start in San Diego, Kershaw’s slider was moving as it should.
Again, enter Coors Field, and you can see that Kershaw struggled to get movement on his slider:
It didn’t matter that day since the Dodgers won 8-0 and the Rockies batted .000 against his slider. But just as we can count bad outings from Kershaw on flukiness, we can also attribute randomness to unusually bad outings from the opposing team. Colorado should have given Kershaw a run for his money. And unfortunately, they did on Monday. Between July 3rd and September 1st, righties were batting .212 against Kershaw’s slider. When the Dodgers played in Coloardo, the Rockies lineup batted .400 against his slider with the righty lineup hitting .250 against it. And in the next chart you’ll see the movement on his slider normalize up until his start on Monday:
OH HAI COORS FIELD!
Kershaw gave up 11 hits and 5 runs. The whiff rate with his slider against righties prior to his start on Monday was 22.92%. When he faced the Rockies on Monday, his whiff rate with his slider against righties was 13.64%.
The point of this post is to get you to understand that Coors Field isn’t Kershaw friendly. I also want you to understand that bad outings at Coors Field are not indicative of Kershaw being hurt or the onset of a slump. Bad outings at Coors are normal for Kershaw. Fortunately, it will be the last trip to Colorado this season and Kershaw can seek retribution for ever having to set foot in that god forsaken stadium by destroying the Rockies at Dodgers Stadium.
Note: All graphs came courtesy of Brooksbaseball.net and fangraphs.com