A Celebration of All Things Kershaw

Clayton Kerhsaw is an ace.  That is something that should really go without saying.  But he’s one of those pitchers that just brings you joy when you get to watch him.  Since his callup in 2008, it’s been awesome.  Even if I didn’t really know who he was when he was called up, I could see how excited my older brother was when we were watching him pitch.  Each year since then, he’s been steadily improving.  He’s always had the “stuff” (although there’s plenty of pitchers in baseball with great “stuff” who don’t have the success Kershaw has had) and over the last year and a half, he’s been cutting down on the walks, throwing more strikes, and pitching longer into games.  The result?  A guy who truly gives the Dodgers a good chance to win every time he pitches.  That’s a phrase you’ll hear on SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight fairly often, “X Pitcher is a guy who takes the ball once every 5 games and gives his team a chance to win”.  The difference here is that it’s actually true.  Much like the Four Aces in Philadelphia, or King Felix, C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum, or any other “Ace”, Kershaw is a unique pitcher who goes out and dominates other teams almost every time he starts.

I could sing his praises forever (and anyone who knows me or talks to me knows I really could), but to really show exactly how good he’s been, I’ll point you to how good he’s been over the rival and World Champion San Francisco Giants.  He currently has a 23.2 inning scoreless streak against them.  In three games, he’s pitched at least 6.2 innings and allowed no runs.  One of those games was a complete game, and one of the best games he’s ever pitched.  While I guessed he’d pitch 8 innings tonight, I could easily see him throwing another CG.  If he throws 7.1 innings tonight, he’ll pass Don Sutton’s consecutive scoreless innings record vs. the Giants.  Just imagine that.  Numbers like that are unbelievable.

Jon Weisman, and excellent writer for the blog Dodger Thoughts (you can find a link to his fine blog on the sidebar on the main page), wrote a piece earlier in the year saying that if Kershaw outduels Tim Lincecum on opening day, it could be Kershawmania.  While Kershaw did win that game and pitch a brilliant game, Kershawmania hasn’t taken off.  And unless he throws a perfect game or a couple no-hitters, I don’t think he will.  He’s too low-key, and there’s too many amazing pitchers right now.  There’s too many “aces”.  Baseball fans as a collective group have become obsessed with labeling their guys “Aces”.  But even though Kershawmania hasn’t begun, and probably won’t anytime soon, I’m just fine with watching him, just like I enjoy watching pitchers like Lincecum, Verlander, etc.

What exactly has helped Kershaw become such a good pitcher?  Well I mentioned it earlier, but it’s the fact that he’s really cut down the walks.  This lets him pitch deeper into games, and strike more guys out.  The turning point last year was after the infamous “Milwaukee game” on May 4th.  He only pitched 4 total outs, walked 2, actually struck out 3, but gave up 5 hits including a Home Run, with the result being Seven Earned Runs.  Before that game, he had walked 4 or more batters in a start 4 times, and after that he walked 4 or more 5 times during the rest of the year.  Most telling, was that in the start right after the Milwaukee Game, he dueled Ubaldo Jimenez (who was on absolute fire, threatening to challenge Bob Gibson’s ERA record), and beat him, handing him his first loss that year.  He went 8 innings, struck out 9, walked only 3, and shut out the Rockies.  Since then, it’s been a pleasure to watch Clayton Kershaw.

The best part about Clayton Kerhsaw is how he his off the field.  He’s a team leader, but he’s low-key about it.  He knows he’s a great pitcher, but doesn’t draw attention to himself.  And he’s an incredibly strong Christian with very admirable values.  Over the offseason, he and his wife traveled on a missions trip to Zambia and helped set up orphanages and schools.  He’s also donating $10 to these funds for every strikeout he throws this year.  By the end of the year, he will likely donate over $2000.

Is there anything I’m missing here?  Is my Dodgers bias making Kershaw appear better than he actually is?  Tell me why with a comment!

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One Comment on “A Celebration of All Things Kershaw”

  1. […] come back against Brian Wilson, who is a good closer with a nasty-looking beard.  I suppose both myself and Mike Petriello jinxed Clayton Kershaw though, so fans can blame us I suppose.  The bottom line […]

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