clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Birthday boy Clayton Kershaw faces off against Chris Sale in marquee spring matchup

Rob Tringali/Getty Images

PHOENIX -- The two best left-handed starting pitchers in baseball square off on the mound on Saturday at Camelback Ranch, with Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers facing Chris Sale and the White Sox.

From 2012-2015, with a minimum of 600 innings pitched, Kershaw has the best ERA+ in baseball at 176. Sale ranks fourth at 137.

Kershaw has the most strikeouts during that span with 1,001, two more than Max Scherzer. Sale is third with 900.

Kershaw leads baseball over the last four years with a 23.6-percent K-BB%, with Sale third at 22.7 percent.

"As a player it's always good to face the best," manager Dave Roberts said on Saturday morning. "Those guys get up when they know Clayton is pitching, and I think our guys when you see Chris Sale there is going to be more into it."

Roberts said Kershaw will pitch approximately five innings or 75 pitches, though that is certainly flexible. Kershaw was only supposed to pitch four innings last Sunday against the Rockies but was so efficient that he pitched a scoreless fifth inning as well.

Saturday also happens to be Kershaw's 28th birthday, marking the third time he has started on his birthday.

In 2009 Kershaw pitched five scoreless innings on his 21st birthday to beat the Rockies, and for good measure hit a home run as well, to date his only home run in 39 spring training plate appearances. But Kershaw, a career .300/.344/.433 hitter in spring training in case you were wondering, won't get to bat on Saturday. The White Sox are the home team today, meaning a designated hitter is in play for both sides.

Kershaw pitched 5⅓ innings against the Indians on his birthday in 2012, but had the audacity to allow a single run and suffered the loss. In his two previous birthday starts Kershaw combined to allow one run on four hits in 10⅓ innings, with three walks and eight strikeouts.

Adam Eaton is the only left-handed hitter in the lineup for either team against the two stellar southpaw pitchers. Each team has one switch hitter in the batting order, with Elian Herrera playing left field and batting eighth for the Dodgers, and old friend Dioner Navarro catching and batting eighth for Chicago.

Expected to pitch after Kershaw for the Dodgers are J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez and Louis Coleman.

Also up from the minor league side on Saturday are pitchers Logan Bawcom (No. 88), Scott Griggs (89), A.J. Vanegas (90) and Scott Barlow (91). A pair of position players are suited up as well, with infielder Delvis Morales wearing number 69 and outfielder Johan Mieses sporting No. 84.