The Dodgers may be on a six-game losing streak, but according to their in-house skid stopping playbook, the first step will be employed Wednesday night. You see, Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers in their series finale against the Diamondbacks.
Kershaw was the subject of a fantastic feature by Jonah Keri at Grantland. The entire piece is fantastic, and comprehensive, but I enjoyed this anecdote of Kershaw learning a slider in 2009:
"We're at Wrigley Field and Kersh and I are getting ready to do a bullpen session between starts," recalled A.J. Ellis, the Dodgers catcher who first caught Kershaw at Double-A in 2007 and is now his best friend on the team. "Our bullpen catcher at the time, Mike Borzello, says, 'We're going to try something new today.' They want to see if he can throw a slider. The very first one he throws is just perfect. No one can believe it. Right away, Borzello says, 'If he throws it like that, that's a pitch he can throw for a strike, and as a strikeout pitch.' This was the first time Kersh had ever thrown a slider off a mound in his life."
Kershaw entering his start on Wednesday needs 7⅓ innings to reach 1,000 in his career, which would make him eligible for the all-time leaderboards. Kershaw's ERA of 2.738 would rank third all-time behind relief pitchers Mariano Rivera and Hoyt Wilhelm, and just ahead of starting pitcher Whitey Ford (2.745).
In order to stay ahead of Ford in career ERA on Wednesday, Kershaw needs to allow:
- 0 earned runs in any amount of innings
- 1 earned run in one inning or longer
- 2 earned runs in 4⅓ innings or longer
- 3 earned runs in 7⅓ innings or longer
- 4 earned runs in 10⅔ innings or longer
If Kershaw can keep up his string of 19 consecutive games allowing three or fewer earned runs, dating back to last season, in tact, he has an excellent chance of staying ahead of Ford in career ERA. Not too shabby.
Kershaw's streak is the longest active streak in the majors, and the most by a Dodger since Tom Candiotti also went 19 straight starts of allowing three or fewer earned runs in 1993. The last Dodger with 20 starts in a row with three or fewer earned runs was Orel Hershiser in 1990.
Time: 7:10 p.m.