Friday, July 11, 2014

The streak is over, but the greatness of Kershaw remains

Buster Olney of ESPN said it right - the run Clayton Kershaw is on is right up there with Sandy Koufax and Pedro Martinez.

Consider these numbers:

Koufax ('63-66): 97-27, 1.86 ERA, 0.87 WHIP
Martinez ('99-02): 68-17, 2.07 ERA, 0.91 WHIP
Kershaw ('11-14): 62-25, 2.16 ERA, 0.95 WHIP (still active)

Then there's this little gem from the Elias Sports Bureau: Kershaw is the first pitcher EVER to win eight straight starts in the same season with an ERA under 1.00 and 80+ strikeouts.  His exact numbers during this run are 8-0, 0.74 ERA, 80 K's.


Forget just being Dodger fans, fans of baseball everywhere need to pause and appreciate just how good this guy is.  Every fifth day has turned into "Must See TV," to steal NBC's old slogan.  You know you're in store for something special when #22 takes the mound.

Even more impressive is that Kershaw has had to battle back from a couple of setbacks earlier this year, which seems like forever ago.  He missed the entire month of April with a strained back muscle as the Dodgers struggled to get going.  Then there was his start in Arizona on May 17 in which he only lasted 1 2/3 innings and gave up seven runs, ballooning his ERA to 4.43.

In his 10 starts since that infamous night, he's given up eight runs total.  Including a no-hitter.  Including 41 straight scoreless innings.  Including nine wins.

I'd say he's figured things out.

The only thing I wish could change is that most people probably haven't seen him pitch due to being on the West Coast.  Most of his starts take place too late at night for most of the country, so they only see highlights or read about him the next day.  If he pitched in New York or Boston, there'd be a lot more eyes on him to appreciate what he does.  There's not much you can do about it, that's just the way it is.

One place where lots of eyes will be on him is the All-Star Game.  Mark Saxon wrote a good article about how Kershaw definitely deserves to start, but also acknowledges how Mike Matheny will probably pick his own guy, Adam Wainwright.  While there's no doubt Wainwright is awesome, Kershaw is clearly the best pitcher in baseball right now.  He needs to get the ball in the first inning against the American League.

We will see what happens with that, as Matheny has previously stated that he'll wait until Monday to make his decision.  Kershaw will not make any more starts before the break, so he'll be plenty rested.  And I'm sure, whether he wants to admit it or not, chomping at the bit to get the honor of starting.

In the meantime, get ready for a big second half of the season, as Kershaw looks to lead his team to an NL West title for the second straight year.  He has some unfinished business in the postseason, so you know he'll be ready for that.  It's going to be fun to watch.

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