Clayton Kershaw vs. Tim Lincecum: Breakdown of Pitching Duel on MLB Opening Day

Bleacher ReportContributor IIIApril 1, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium on March 31, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Here's a breakdown of both starting pitchers in last night's San Francisco Giants/Los Angeles Dodgers game. 

Clayton Kershaw's Final Line: 7IP 4H 0R 0ER 1BB 9K 1.00 GB/FB Ratio 

Kershaw was absolutely brilliant last night against the Giants, giving the best pitching performance on Opening Day. 

The key to a successful outing for Kershaw has always been fastball location and command of his offspeed stuff. Kershaw threw 68 fastballs during the game and 64 percent ended up being strikes, five of which were swinging. He averaged 93.5 mph on his fastball and maxed out at 95. 

Kershaw started out strong, striking out the side in the first inning. It was apparent that Kershaw had his slider working after striking out Huff and Posey on two nasty ones down in the zone. Clayton threw 21 sliders, 16 for strikes, and four of them were swinging. He did record three strikeouts with the pitch. 

Kershaw threw his changeup twice, and his curveball five times. Even though he used the curveball sparingly, he recorded three strikeouts on the pitch during the middle innings. 

Mattingly took out Kershaw after seven dominant innings, in which he recorded nine strikeouts, allowed four singles and one walk. He never lost any velocity on his fastball in the later innings.

It was a great performance, and Dodger fans should be excited to see how Kershaw will perform for the rest of the season. 


Tim Lincecum's Final Line: 7IP 5H 1R 0ER 3BB 5K 1.67 GB/FB Ratio 

Lincecum had an excellent performance in last night's game, but he was ultimately undone by his new shortstop. 

Lincecum did not have his best command, but there was an increase in velocity compared to the end of the 2010 season. He averaged 93 mph last night (maxing out at 95), and he maintained that velocity throughout the game. Lincecum threw 103 pitches over his seven innings, getting a strike 56 percent of the time. His fastball command was decent at 63 percent, and he only recorded to swinging strikes on it (he did strikeout Either looking on the pitch). He allowed all five hits on fastballs in the zone.

Lincecum's slider had the greatest success last night. He threw the pitch 24 times (54 percent strikes) and he got four swing and misses, including three strikeouts. His changeup also was successful, getting three swing and misses on the 14 total including a strikeout of Kershaw in the second. Lincecum only featured his curveball four times and got two called strikes with it. 

Lincecum may not have been as dominant as Kershaw, but he matched him pitch for pitch and inning for inning, in a classic pitchers duel one can only hope for on Opening Day.