Saturday, September 28, 2013

All that's left for Kershaw is to dominate October

Regular season, done.  Cy Young Award, done.  NL West division champs, done.

Now it's time for the best pitcher in baseball to shine on the biggest stage.

For Clayton Kershaw, when he takes the ball in Game 1 of the NLDS on the road in either Atlanta or St. Louis, he'll have the chance to show the whole world what he's all about.  Not just those late-night West Coast fans, but baseball fans everywhere.

So if you've ever wondered why Kershaw doesn't get all of the glowing praise he should get as the best pitcher in baseball, perhaps it's because not enough eyes are on him.  That's about to change.

Kershaw was simply sensational on Friday night, completely shutting down the Rockies as the bats went nuts in an 11-0 win.  Clearly on a limit since the Cardinals already won and the thought of securing home field in the playoffs went out the window, he lasted six innings and 82 pitches for four hits, no runs, no walks, and eight strikeouts.

His final tally for the season?  16-9, 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 232 K's in 236 innings.  Wow.  As good as pitchers like Adam Wainwright, Jose Fernandez, and Craig Kimbrel have been, there's no way Kershaw shouldn't be the unanimous Cy Young Award winner.  But you know some idiot voter will beg to differ just for the sake of standing out.

With a couple games left for each team in the regular season, here's where Kershaw stands in the National League: first in strikeouts, ERA, and WHIP; second in innings pitched; and third in wins and complete games.  And to think, as Don Mattingly pointed out after the game, he'd easily have well over 20 wins if he got a shred of run support early in the season.  He certainly did on Friday.

It's already set in stone that Kershaw will go in Game 1 on the road to open up the playoffs.  Is there any reason to worry that he'll toe the rubber away from home?  Um, no.  In 113 1/3 innings on the road this season covering 16 starts, he's 8-3 with a 2.14 ERA and 104 K's.  His BAA is actually better as it's a measly .187 compared to .203 at home.  That's a reason to be very encouraged as well.

From there, his next start (we hope) would either be Game 5 of the NLDS in a do-or-die situation, or Game 1 of the NLCS.  But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

For now, it's a very exciting time for Kershaw to prove his worth to all of the world, and not just the West Coast fans.  Give him the ball, watch him dissect his opponents, and the wins will pile up.

Hopefully all the way to a World Series championship.

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