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Kershaw Closing In On Dubious, Meaningless Record

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Clayton Kershaw has a bright future in this game.  This we know.  His present isn't so bad either, of course.  This year, he struck out more than a batter per inning, he allowed the lowest opponent batting average in baseball, and his adjusted ERA (ERA+) was 141.

Kershaw is left-handed, so the comparisons to Sandy Koufax are inevitable, but for Kershaw to be mentioned in the same breath as another famous Dodger lefty, Fernando Valenzuela, is also a fitting honor.  Normally, Kershaw approaching a record held by Valenzuela would be something to celebrate. But not in this case.

Believe it or not, Kershaw has not won a game since July 18.  That is not to say he hasn't pitched well.  If the Cy Young awards this season have taught us anything, it's that pitcher wins aren't the best method to measure performance.  Tim Lincecum (15 wins) and Zack Greinke (16 wins) were well-deserving winners, even though they didn't have the traditionally high win totals of past winners.

Including the postseason, Kershaw has made 13 straight starts without recording a win.  There have only been six longer streaks in Los Angeles Dodger history:

Most Consecutive Winless Starts, LA Dodger History
Pitcher Year(s) Starts W-L IP H ER BB K ERA WHIP
Fernando Valenzuela     
'88-,89 19 0-8 102.0 109 56 58 61 4.94 1.637
Alejandro Peña '86-'87 15 0-6 71.2 89 44 24 41 5.53 1.577
Rick Honeycutt 1987 14 0-11 71.2 92 44 34 52 5.53 1.758
Don Sutton 1974 14 0-6 75.0 85 47 27 36 5.64 1.493
Ismael Valdez '99-'00 13 0-6 62.0 87 51 25 45 7.40 1.806
Pedro Astacio '94-'95 13 0-4 74.1 71 37 25 63 4.48 1.291
Clayton Kershaw
2009 13 0-4 73.2 62 25 36 84 3.05 1.330

Take a look at that list, and notice that the other pitchers pitched rather poorly during their streaks, but Kershaw was still effective during his winless run.  Earlier this month, I looked at some of the bad luck behind Kershaw's second half.  The bottom line is that it doesn't really matter that Kershaw didn't get those wins.  If he keeps pitching like he has been, the wins will come.  Oh, will they come.