Clayton Kershaw pitched a complete-game three hitter against the Padres Thursday night, picking up the 2-1 win. The one run by San Diego was an offensive outburst for teams facing the Dodger ace; Kershaw had held opponents scoreless for the previous 41 consecutive innings.
The 2011 and 2013 Cy Young Award winner and 2012 runner up has taken dominance to a new level. Despite missing all of April with a balky back, Kershaw leads Major League pitchers in ERA, WHIP, strikeout-to-walk ratio, complete games, and winning percentage. The NL’s Pitcher of the Month for June, Kershaw is quietly putting together what could be his finest season.
Signed to a seven-year, $215 million contract in the off season, Kerhsaw has led the Majors in earned run average each of the last three seasons. Only Lefty Grove and Greg Maddux have strung together three consecutive league-leading years. Now in his seventh season in the Majors, Kershaw appears to be improving with age. After going 26-23 in his first three big league seasons, Kerhsaw has gone 42-25 since. For his career, he is forty games above .500.
The Dodgers’ first-round pick of the 2006 draft might well prove to be the world’s first nine-figure financial bargain.
Only 26 years old, he’ll appear in his fourth All Star game on July 15, along with teammates Zack Greinke, Dee Gordon, and Yasiel Puig. In his three previous appearances in the mid-Summer classic, the lefty has thrown three scoreless frames. Dodger manager spoke before Friday’s game on what it means to be an All Star, referring to Kershaw as if he were a grizzled veteran.
“Clayton and Zack have obviously been there before,” Mattingly said, “but for Dee and Yasiel, it’ll be a great experience. There’s something special about your first one. They’ll have a great time.”
With all the individual accolades — he also pitched his first career no-hitter in June — the one thing that has so far eluded Kershaw is a World Series Championship. The Dodgers have the highest payroll in baseball and the second best record in the NL. With a pitching staff that includes Greinke, Hyun Jin Ryu, and the rejuvenated Josh Beckett, the team is built for both the grueling marathon of the regular season and the short sprints of the post-season.
Perhaps the race well end with Kershaw completing his résumé with a World Series win. Clayton Kershaw world champion? It has a nice ring to it.
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The article’s author, Jim Smiley welcomes your email feedback. Read more about Jim in part one and part two of an exclusive interview about his baseball experience.