Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Clayton Kershaw's foot, performance in danger?
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Those looking for a culprit for Clayton Kershaw's less-than-stellar flashes of late might have found one. Don Mattingly said the Los Angeles Dodgers' left-hander has been receiving treatment for plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of a foot, for "at least a week."
The staff has tried fixing it with night-time solutions (whatever those are) and trying different tape types, among other things. The high-priced pitcher is, per skip, affected by the ailment only when running, not when he's on the mound.
Most baseball fans with a brain find that hard to believe. Regardless of what Donnie Baseball says, the ailment that's digging at Kershaw can linger for a long time if at a severe level. Ask any MLB or NFL player who's suffered it.
Plus, when Mattingly says "at least a week," that leaves open the notion that the injury could've been hindering him for much of the season. Kershaw's performance has been a notch below his usual output over the first two-plus months of his 2012 campaign. Despite posting ace-like figures, "The Claw" needs sharpening. Starkest in decline are his K/9 and HR/9.
OK, it's hard to argue with "only" a post-April 3.00 ERA and 2.12 free-pass rate, but if he's getting hit hard in the zone thanks to faulty precision, he and his owners might have more to worry about soon. He allowed 15 taters for all of 2011 yet has already surrendered seven - not an exponential trend overall, but its rapid escalation is worth examining.
For a starting pitcher, the impact might be tempered, at least in his ability to suit up. But whether it's his landing foot or push-off paw - reports haven't yet specified - some aspect of his delivery, as well as fielding his position, will remind him of the pain. Any awkward spot in his motion can throw off location and velocity, though he hasn't shown weakness in the latter just yet. Missing spots could explain the homer explosion, though.
The Blue were burned in trying to active Matt Kemp (hamstring) too soon. If their No. 1 keeps complaining and the ding increasingly hampers his performance, don't rule out them pulling a DL trigger, especially since they have so much time to endure in keeping their division lead.
A quick turnaround would ease what may be mounting concerns, and don't go selling Kershaw because of this, but don't ignore the hints that something could be wrong, at least more so than LA is addressing. This malady isn't the type to vanish in a blink once inflicted, so plan ahead for the off-chance you'll have to shelf your stud for a bit.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous publications, and recognized as a finalist in FSWA's awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he's on The Reality Check with Glenn Clark every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. He hits the airwaves every Thursday at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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