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Dodgers May review: Clayton Kershaw at his best

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The Dodgers in May saw Julio Urias debut, saw Corey Seager tie a franchise record at his position in just his third major league month. The club on offense was led on offense by a pair of rookies, but ultimately May was about Clayton Kershaw, who had arguably the best month of his career.

Kershaw was 5-0 with a 0.92 ERA in six starts during the month, with five total runs allowed, two walks and 65 strikeouts in 49⅔ innings.

Kershaw started 50 different innings in May, and 45 of them were scoreless, with 31 perfect innings.

Kershaw had more shutouts (three) than walks (two) in May, the first Dodgers pitcher with three shutouts in a calendar month since Tim Belcher in September 1989.

Kershaw's 65 strikeouts were the most ever by any MLB pitcher in a month with two or fewer walks.

Those 65 strikeouts matched a personal best for Kershaw in a single month, and the last Dodgers pitcher with more strikeouts in a month was Sandy Koufax, with 79 strikeouts in September/October 1965 (Koufax's one October start was a 13-strikeout performance on Oct. 2 to clinch the pennant on the penultimate day of the season, and it was on two days rest).

May was the fifth month of Kershaw's career with a sub-1.00 ERA in at least four starts.

The 49⅔ innings by Kershaw were his most in any single month, and the most by a Dodger since Hideo Nomo threw 50⅓ innings in June 1995. It marked the third time Kershaw averaged at least eight innings per start in a month (minimum four starts) in his career.

All that added up to a successful month, including outscoring their opponents by a run per game, but also one that saw them fall behind a red-hot Giants team that built a lead in the division, then matched results with the Dodgers over the last 10 days of May.

Dodger Batter of May: Despite placing ninth on the team in plate appearances during May, 27 fewer than seventh place, outfielder Trayce Thompson still finished one off the Dodgers' team lead in home runs (six) and RBI (14) while hitting .270/.352/.603. He narrowly beat out Corey Seager, who hit .301/.352/.540 and also led the team in runs scored (19) and RBI (15) while tying the club record for home runs by a shortstop in a month (h/t Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider).

Dodger Pitcher of May: If the introduction didn't give it away, this award goes to Clayton Kershaw, who has taken his game to another level. Honorable mention goes to Alex Wood, who struck out 35.3 percent of his batters faced during the month, and even though he had a 3.18 ERA in five starts had an 0-2 record. Wood's 41 strikeouts in May were the third-most by a Dodgers pitcher in a month with no wins, since 1913.

May Record: 16-12
124 runs scored (4.43 per game)
96 runs allowed (3.43 per game)
.615 pythagorean winning percentage (17-11)

May National League West Standings
Club W-L Pct GB RS RA
San Francisco
21-8 .724 --- 114 94
Dodgers 16-12 .571 124 96
Colorado 13-15 .464 137 137
Arizona 11-17 .393 127 141
San Diego 11-18 .379 10 99 125

2016 Record: 28-25
229 runs scored (4.32 per game)
193 runs allowed (3.64 per game)
.578 pythagorean winning percentage (31-22)

National League West Standings through May 31
Club W-L Pct GB RS RA
San Francisco
33-21 .611 --- 238 215
Dodgers 28-25 .528 229 193
Colorado 24-27 .471 263 272
Arizona 23-31 .426 10 247 279
San Diego 20-33 .377 12½ 194 248

Game of the Month: On May 22 in San Diego, the Dodgers played their longest game in nine years, outlasting the Padres 9-5 in 17 innings at Petco Park. Starting pitcher Ross Stripling pitched the final three innings scoreless for the win, and Howie Kendrick was 4-for-8 with a home run and two doubles, missing out on a cycle only by an unfortunate bounce over the fence in right center field. The game lasted five hours, 47 minutes.

Rookie power: The Dodgers' best two hitters in May were Trayce Thompson and Corey Seager, tops on the team in home runs as well with six and seven, respectively. They made May the first month in Dodgers franchise history to have two rookies with at least five home runs each, per STATS LLC.

Punchout artists: In addition to Kershaw's 65 strikeouts, Scott Kazmir struck out 46 in May and Alex Wood added 41 strikeouts, the first trio of Dodgers to all strikeout 40 in a month since Sandy Koufax (58 strikeouts), Don Drysdale (54) and Johnny Podres (42) did so in July 1963.

Welcome aboard: May saw Julio Urias make his major league debut, a no-decision on May 27 in New York. The month also saw relief pitcher Casey Fien make his Dodgers debut, one day later. Fien pitched in two games in May, and retired all six batters faced.

Pinch Hitting: For the month, Dodger pinch hitters were just 6-for-33 but did have two home runs, hitting .182/.250/.364.

Runners in Scoring Position: In May, the Dodgers hit a putrid .224/.318/.322 with runners in scoring position in 247 plate appearances, with six doubles and four home runs.

They had a runner on third base with less than two outs 63 times in May, and got the runner home 30 times, or 47.6 percent (the entire National League scored 437 of 899 times, 48.6 percent).

They had a runner on second base with nobody out 56 times in May, and the runner advanced 33 times, or 58.9 percent (the entire NL advanced the runner 352 of 654 times, 53.8 percent).

Bases loaded: The Dodgers were 9-for-26 with the bases loaded in May, with two doubles and a grand slam, hitting .346/.353/.538.

The Month ahead: The Dodgers play 15 of their 28 games in June on the road, including the first two games of the month at Wrigley Field, three games in San Francisco and four games in Pittsburgh. The Dodgers host the Nationals but otherwise have a cake home schedule, and June includes seven games against the Brewers, four at home and three in Milwaukee.

May weeks in review: May 8 | May 16 | May 23 | May 30

Previous months in review: April

May Stats

Player PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SB/CS BA/OBP/SLG OPS
Thompson 71 63 12 17 3 0 6 14 8 1/1 .270/.352/.603 .955
Seager 122 113 19 34 6 0 7 15 8 0/1 .301/.352/.540 .892
Gonzalez 105 93 10 29 3 0 2 12 11 0/0 .312/.381/.409 .790
Utley 102 89 18 25 3 0 3 12 11 0/2 .281/.363/.416 .778
Pederson 98 86 11 18 7 0 5 14 11 1/0 .209/.296/.465 .761
Kendrick 99 90 14 25 3 1 2 10 7 4/0 .278/.323/.400 .723
Turner 106 89 10 20 3 0 3 11 13 1/0 .225/.340/.360 .700
Puig 100 96 11 22 1 0 3 11 3 1/1 .229/.260/.333 .593
Grandal 78 70 5 8 2 0 3 9 7 0/1 .114/.192/.271 .464
Starters 881 789 110 198 31 1 34 108 79 8/6 .251/.321/.422 .743
Culberson 7 6 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 1/0 .333/.429/.333 .762
Ellis 41 34 1 7 2 0 0 0 7 0/0 .206/.341/.265 .606
Crawford 51 48 5 10 1 0 0 4 2 0/1 .208/.235/.229 .464
Hernandez 40 37 5 4 1 0 0 0 3 0/0 .108/.175/.135 .310
Bench 139 125 12 23 4 0 0 4 13 1/1 .184/.259/.216 .475
Pitchers 49 46 2 8 0 0 0 2 0 0/0 .174/.174/.174 .348
Totals 1069 960 124 229 35 1 34 114 92 9/7 .239/.307/.383 .690

:

Pitcher G W-L Sv IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP FIP
Kershaw 6 5-0 -- 49 24 5 5 2 65 0.91 0.523 0.87
Wood 5 0-2 -- 28 24 12 10 7 41 3.18 1.094 2.89
Kazmir 6 3-1 -- 38 26 17 15 16 46 3.49 1.086 4.55
Bolsinger 2 1-1 -- 10 10 5 5 3 8 4.50 1.300 5.00
Maeda 5 1-2 -- 25 19 14 14 11 23 5.04 1.200 4.38
Stripling 3 1-1 -- 15 16 10 10 6 11 5.74 1.404 4.70
Urias 1 0-0 -- 2 5 3 3 4 3 10.13 3.375 5.35
Starters 28 11-7 -- 170 124 66 62 49 197 3.28 1.018 3.22
Stripling 1 1-0 -- 3 2 0 0 0 1 0.00 0.667 2.43
Fien 2 0-0 -- 2 0 0 0 0 4 0.00 0.000 (0.90)
Avilan 1 0-0 -- 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.000 3.10
Liberatore 14 1-0 -- 9⅔ 10 2 2 4 12 1.86 1.448 1.55
Jansen 11 1-1 6/2 9⅓ 5 2 2 0 9 1.93 0.536 2.56
Coleman 15 0-0 -- 11 4 4 3 4 14 2.38 0.706 1.42
Howell 9 0-1 -- 10 6 3 3 4 8 2.70 1.000 4.60
Hatcher 9 1-0 -- 9 10 4 3 5 9 2.89 1.607 5.24
Blanton 13 1-1 -- 17 8 7 7 6 20 3.63 0.808 2.64
Tsao 2 0-1 -- 1 1 1 1 3 0 5.40 2.400 8.50
Baez 13 0-1 -- 10⅔ 10 7 7 3 11 5.91 1.219 4.60
Relievers 28 5-5 6/2 84 56 30 28 29 88 2.98 1.004 3.14
Totals 28 16-12 6/2 254⅔ 180 96 90 78 285 3.18 1.013 3.19