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Clayton Kershaw day by day: A duel with Max Scherzer

A pair of 3-time Cy Young Award winners faced off at Dodger Stadium two years ago today.

Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers

Up next in our Clayton Kershaw project is his lone start on April 20, coming in 2018 against the Nationals. It was a duel with Max Scherzer, a battle of two of the premiere pitchers of the last decade.

Scherzer was the two-time defending NL Cy Young Award winner coming into 2018, his three career Cy’s matching Kershaw for most in the 2010s. They were in the same draft, with Kershaw picked seventh by the Dodgers and Scherzer by the Diamondbacks. They debuted within four weeks of each other in 2008.

This was the 295th start of Kershaw’s career, and the 301st for Scherzer. Some of their career counting stats after this game were very similar.

A pair of 2006 draftees

Pitcher Starts Innings Record BB K Cy Youngs
Pitcher Starts Innings Record BB K Cy Youngs
Kershaw 295 1,968 145-67 510 2,155 3
Scherzer 301 1,930 145-76 541 2,196 3
Through April 20, 2018

This game in 2018 was the start of a weekend series, with the Dodgers coming in on a four-game winning streak. This was just the third career meeting between Kershaw and Scherzer. The first came in 2008, a duel between rookies decided by the bullpens won by the Dodgers. The second meeting was in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS in Washington D.C., won by Kershaw.

Scherzer got the better of Kershaw in this game, striking out nine in six innings. Kershaw allowed two runs early, with the first three batters swinging at the first pitch. Five batters in it was 2-0 thanks to RBI hits by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. Kershaw didn’t walk anybody in his seven innings, but he allowed nine hits and four runs.

From my game recap:

Before Friday batters were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position against Kershaw, and that hit didn’t even score a run. In the first inning on Friday the Nationals got two such hits. Washington was 5-for-11 on Friday with runners in scoring position against Kershaw, and tacked on runs in the fifth and sixth against him.

“Max limited the damage better than I did tonight,” Kershaw said. “There were just not enough good pitches with runners in scoring position to get out of jams. When you’re going against Max it’s going to be tough.”

The outing (L, 1-3): 7 IP, 9 hits, 4 runs, 4 strikeouts

Up next: A very busy April 21