Saturday, July 5, 2014

At 36 scoreless, can Kershaw realistically catch Hershiser?

Clayton Kershaw's latest gem came on our nation's Independence Day, as he hurled eight scoreless innings in Colorado of all places, pacing the Dodgers to 9-0 victory.  I think it's fair to say the Rockies have seen enough of this guy, as they were no-hit last time, and got only two hits this time.  That's some unbelievable domination.

With that start, Kershaw has surpassed two of the all-time great Dodgers in Fernando Valenzuela and Don Sutton for consecutive scoreless innings (they each had 35).  Only Don Drysdale (58) and Orel Hershiser (59) remain.  Hershiser, of course, owns the MLB record from his magnificent 1988 Cy Young, world championship season.

Now the question is fair to ask - Can Kershaw catch, and surpass, Hershiser's record?  After last night's start, nothing is impossible.

Kershaw has one more start to go before the All-Star break, and that's home against the Padres next Thursday.  The same Padres who are 15-24 on the road, and are dead last in baseball in runs scored (113) and batting average (.209).  And it's really not even close, either.  Kershaw is 4-1 at home with a 1.80 ERA and .188 BAA.

Advantage, Kershaw.

Say he pitches 7-9 scoreless innings, then that puts him in the 43-45 range.  He needs to get to 60 innings to break the record, so it's anywhere between 15-17 more innings to go.

The All-Star break is coming up after next weekend's games, so it's tough to say right now when he'll make his next start.  The Dodgers could quite possibly send up to three starting pitchers to the Midsummer Classic in Kershaw, Josh Beckett, and Zack Greinke.  I would think at least two of the three would go.

So, that makes it a little tough to guess when Kershaw will make his next start.  Last year he was the only Dodger representative, and after he pitched one scoreless inning in New York, his next start was in the third game after the break.  But, again, it's hard to judge based on more of his teammates likely to be in Minnesota with him this time around.

The Dodgers have three pairs of three game series on the road starting on Friday, July 18: Cardinals, Pirates, and Giants.  If Kershaw pitches the first game, then his next start will be in Pittsburgh.  If he waits even a day, then it'll be in San Francisco.

Can you imagine if Kershaw has a chance to set the record in San Francisco?  Ohhhhhh.... that would be great!

The next two series after that are both at home, three against the Braves, and three against the Cubs.  So maybe that is when he'll set history.

Of course, this is all just speculative.  Maybe Carlos Quintin hits a solo homer in the first inning next Thursday.  Who knows?  I do know that even though the Padres are a weak hitting club, it's hard to predict a shutout against any team.  That's why Kershaw's current streak is all that more remarkable.

For now, let's enjoy 36 straight and the absolute dominance he's been on the last few weeks.  Let's also enjoy first place by 1 1/2 games, as the Giants continue to crumble.

Let's also enjoy the fact that we may be witnessing history in the making each time Kershaw takes the mound.  I'm sure Hershiser is enjoying it from the booth.

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