Clayton Kershaw is not for sale at any price

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via minos-the-minotaur-comic.dumbbum.net

The Minotaur is in the house today, can the best young Los Angeles Dodger LHP since Fernandomania break the Dodgers first three game losing streak of 2009? Only if the Dodgers oblige with a few runs of their own as he can't win the game on his own. If Clayton does what he normally does he will give us 5-6 innings of brilliant pitching. In his last eight starts he's shut out the opponent five times, given up one run once, and two runs twice, dropping his ERA from 4.13 to 2.96. Only twice has he not gone at least six innings. With this kind of performance and the subsequent struggles of Chad he may have moved into the number one spot in the rotation, a spot he may never relinquish.

Some scribes in Los Angeles may not have noticed but Clayton Kershaw is having a historic season given his age and southpawness. For more on this, turn the page.

 

Earlier this year Clayton Kershaw threw a special game but I didn't realize how special it was until reading a column by Joe Posnanski yesterday in which he mentioned this Bill James rule.

Bill James once wrote about how, if a big league pitchers strikes out 15 or more in a game while not walking anyone, you can conclude that he probably will be an outstanding big league pitcher. It’s one of those persuasive achievements. Look: Twenty-one pitchers have pulled it off since 1954 …

Dominant, Hall-of-Fame-type pitchers (9): Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Luis Tiant*, John Smoltz, Curt Schilling*, Johan Santana, Nolan Ryan, Mike Mussina*.

*These pitchers may or may not get into the Hall of Fame … but they have a case. Clemens is a whole other thing.

Pitchers seemingly on their way to dominant careers who were derailed by injury or some other issue (8): Dwight Gooden, Kerry Wood, Frank Tanana (who still had an excellent career), Mark Prior, Gary Nolan, Sam McDowell, Vida Blue, Erik Bedard.

Darned good pitchers (3): Mark Langston, Mario Soto, Sid Fernandez.

Anomaly: Sterling Hitchcock.

The day after Joe wrote the above quote Luke Hochevar struck out 13 and walked none, so Joe wondered how many pitchers had done that and what that might mean for the future of Luke Hochevar, which got me to wondering where Clayton Kershaw's April 15th masterpiece placed him. In that game Clayton struck out 13 and walked one which changed the dynamics of Hochevar's game, since Luke didn't walk anyone.

Part of the reason I was interested was the irritating comment from Tom Hoffarth in Monday's Daily News in which he advocated trading Kershaw for Halladay.

Someday, sure, he might throw a complete-game shutout, strike out 15 and walk just eight. But for now, he's unremarkably become the No. 2 bullet in an L.A. five-shooter that lacks anything to put fear into a playoff opponent. And don't even get us started on the bullpen.

Whatever description you want to place on Clayton's season so far unremarkable is the last adjective I'd use. Evidently Tom, was unaware that Clayton at the tender age of 21 on April 15th had already almost accomplished the above feat but he did it as a Dodger and he did it while only walking one. Now it is very possible that Tom andPlaschke are completely unaware of this game because the Lakers were still playing and the local media doesn't pay attention to the Dodgers until the Laker's close their doors for the summer. It might also explain why they have been oblivious to the great beginning that Chad Billingsley had to the season.

Tom and the other media guys would have traded 20 year old Fernando Valenzuela for Vida Blue thinking we needed an established  "ace"  to win a world series. Funny thing happened in 1981, we won a World Championship and it was Fernando who led us to that World Series.

So I looked into how many lefthanded pitchers had struck out 13 and walked one since 1954 since that is as far back at baseball reference goes for their play index on individual performances. The list is very impressive and even more impressive is that ClaytonKershaw is the youngest LH pitcher to have managed the feat. Only 20 southpaws have managed the feat in 55 years of baseball and of those 20 you have some of the greatest LH pitchers to ever pitch in the post integrated era. Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Vida Blue, Ron Guidry, Johan Santana, and Mickey Lolich are names that anyone familiar with the history of baseball knows about. This doesn't prove anything but I was just curious how many southpaws had done this feat and how they stack up in history.

Every-time I do something like this I'm always reminded just how awesome Sandy Koufax was. He did this trick six times, with Randy Johnson pulling down four entries. Carlton, Hamels, Higuera, and Baylor Moore were able to do it twice.


Pitcher Earliest Age One Two Three Four Five Six
Koufax, Sandy 24.225 9/29/65 8/11/60 7/12/63 9/29/66 8/16/64 6/26/62
Johnson, Randy 29.36 9/26/93 9/5/93 5/10/00 9/5/99
Carlton, Steve 27.13 10/3/82 5/7/72
Hamels, Cole 23.275 9/28/07 6/11/08
Higuera, Teddy 28.23 5/19/87 6/28/87
Moore, Baylor 21.18 8/23/72 7/23/72
Abbott, Jim 24.005 9/24/91
Blue, Vida 26.36 7/23/76
Downing, Al 22.058 8/25/63
Guidry, Ron 28.26 5/16/79
Hurst, Bruce 31.017 4/10/89
Kershaw, Clayton
21.027 4/15/09
Langston, Mark 32.043 10/2/92
Leibrandt, Charlie 34.327 8/27/91
Lolich, Mickey 27.007 9/19/67
Norman, Fred 31.26 5/7/74
O'Dell, Billy 29.14 7/4/61
Santana, Johan 30.03 4/12/09
Short, Chris 28.28 6/30/66
Wolf, Randy 26.03 9/21/02

 

According to game score the Kershaw April 15th game was not that special other then for the age at which he accomplished the task. Given time I expect him to move up the list and I'm much rather see him do it as a Dodger then as a Blue Jay. I've watched the Dodgers since 1969 and this is the best young arm I've ever seen come out of our system, not seeing him mature as a Dodger would break many a Dodger fans heart.

Many a good young lefthander has peaked early and ended with a mediocre or shortened career, even the hard throwing ones. So now I'm curious, just how good does the 21 year old Clayton compare to the other young lefthanders in the history of the game since integration. The ERA+ numbers don't make me comfortable, 34 LHP under the age of 23 have had a season like Kershaw is having and barely a HOF among them with quite a few pitchers who never reached the heights they reached at that young age again. While looking at the pitchers and those who were strike out artists likeKershaw it is even more uncomfortable viewing. Is Kershaw the next Kazmir , Sudden Sam McDowell, Herb Score, or god forbid Oliver Perez? I hope not, I hope he writes his own chapter and does not follow the path of anyone on the list. I hope for more, I hope that is not a false hope.

Face it, the Dodgers had baserunners against Carpenter and Wainwright but these are two of the best RHP in the NL right now. The bullpen imploded against a now potent Cardinal offense with the addition of DeRosa and Holliday to the lineup. 

I can't really talk about Billingsley's game. I turned it on in bottom of the sixth so all the waxing about his brilliant five innings meant nothing to me as I saw him fail to finish the sixth in a fiasco of an inning. Not exactly the way to go about silencing the critics.

I'd also like Tripon to quit showing tweets from the idiots. If I wanted to know what the idiots were tweeting I'd follow them.

We like to see the big picture here but in the short picture the scribes from hell have been telling us we need an "ace", we need to upgrade our bullpen,  and the first two games of this road trip only gave these scribes all sorts of  ammunition for a big trade.

Over the next two games it would be nice if we came back with a statement of our own. Kershaw and Kuroda can show the doubters that they can compete against the tough Cardinals, and the offense needs to remember how to drive in a run. Two games into this road trip this is starting to smell like the awful road trip in August last year when the Dodgers forget how hit with runners in scoring position.  Let us stop the carnage now so we don't start comparing this road trip to that road trip from hell. It is alot to ask of a 21 year old to be a stopper, but we didn't ask any less of Fernando in 1981.

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