The Dodgers fell to the Padres today 8-2 at Camelback Ranch, and for those that are keeping track their Cactus League record is 5-9. But the tale of today's spring training game lies in the travails of three pitchers: Clayton Kershaw, Jonathan Broxton, and Scott Elbert.
Kershaw was a bit wild, especially compared to his last outing. He threw first-pitch strikes to nine of his 20 batters faces, and took four batters to a three-ball count, after taking just one batter to a two-ball count on Saturday against the Reds. Today, Kershaw threw 69 pitches by my unofficial count (28 balls, 41 strikes) in his 4 1/3 innings. He walked two (Chris Denorfia, twice), allowed four singles, one unearned run, and struck out three Padres. The run in the first, not to mention Kershaw's high pitch count (he threw 23 pitches in the first), was largely due to a pair of errors by third baseman Casey Blake, one on a throw and another on a ground ball. In 11 1/3 innings this spring, Kershaw has yet to allow an earned run.
Broxton was very rough in his outing. He faced five batters, and the only out recorded on his watch was on the bases. Broxton allowed a home run, two singles, a walk, and he hit a batter. To top it all off, he allowed three stolen bases as well. I didn't get to see Broxton's outing, but it should be noted that Hector Gimenez, his catcher in the sixth inning today, has caught 18 innings this spring, and opposing runners are 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts.
But that's not to excuse Broxton. He has faced 12 batters this spring and has yet to strikeout a single batter, while walking two. Yes, it's early in spring and there is still time to work on things, but whatever Broxton needs to improve upon, he needs to do it quickly. The Dodgers this offseason built a pitching staff whose strength was its depth; with starting pitchers dropping like flies, the bullpen needs to be at full strength for the Dodgers to go anywhere. An effective Broxton is the key to the bullpen this year.
Elbert saw his first game action in eight days today, and pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He was still wild, falling behind at least three of the four hitters he faced, but he did only walk one of the four batters he faced (after walking six of his first 10 batters, that's a steep improvement), picked up a strikeout, and still hasn't allowed a ball to be hit out of the infield this spring.
The Dodgers have signed right-handed reliever Steven Jackson to a minor-league deal, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Jackson pitched parts of the last two seasons with the Pirates, putting up a 4.31 ERA in 51 games, with 28 walks and 28 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings. Eddy in a tweet said Jackson "could surprise people as 3-pitch reliever—up to 94 mph with good slider, change most times."