Friday, March 7, 2008

Could Clayton Kershaw become the 5th starter?

Looks like Kershawmania is starting to run wild through the Dodgers.

After pitching only 1 inning of 1 Major League game, Clayton Kershaw has made such a great impression that his name is now being thrown into the hat of pitchers who could be the #5 starter. Why is this such a big deal? He's about to turn 20 next month.

Think about that. He's only TWENTY FREAKIN' YEARS OLD! Damn. At 20 I was just trying to pass my history class at community college. The thought of starting at Dodger Stadium never really entered my mind.

Even though he gave up a leadoff homer and then allowed the bases to be loaded, the fact that he struck out the side is what left people in awe. His money pitches are his fastball and curveball. Russell Martin, widely regarded as one of the top catchers in baseball, said the following after catching him for the first time:

"For the first time in a big league game -- wow. He's got just a heavy, heavy fastball and an easy delivery. He's very deceptive. His curveball, it just drops off the table. I think it's the best curveball I've ever caught, to be honest. He keeps the ball down. You can see he's a tremendous competitor, giving up a home run to the first batter, getting into a bases-loaded jam and bearing down to strike out two guys to get out of it."

Not bad praise at all. The best curveball he's EVER caught? Yes, I would say that is a high compliment indeed.

So, what are my thoughts on rushing him to the Bigs right now? Well, fair or not, I can't help but think back to another "can't miss" prospect that the Dodgers threw in there at a young age: Edwin Jackson. True, Jackson started off on top of the world when he beat a then-invincible Randy Johnson, but man has his career sputtered since then. Was it because he was brought up too soon? It's very possible.

Now, I realize we're talking about 2 completely different players that are separated by a few years, but it's still worth looking at. If Esteban Loaiza, Hong-Chih Kuo, or Chan Ho Park (even him) end up stinking up the rest of Spring Training, then even I would admit that seeing Kershaw make the big club would be fun to see. Is it likely? At this point, I still think no.

For all of you fantasy buffs reading this, taking a chance on Kershaw in the late rounds might pay off big time in the long run, especially in keeper leagues. But, don't count on early returns quite yet, it'll take the inevitable injury bug to hit at some point during the year for that to happen.


Marc said...

I'd rather have Loaiza in the fifth spot.

Aaron said...

After today's start, I wouldn't mind either. Even for just Spring Training, anybody who can shut down the Red Sox is doing something right. I really hope he can stay somewhat consistent so Kershaw isn't rushed too soon. His time will come eventually.