Clayton Kershaw won the 200th game of his career on Wednesday night, doing so in vintage fashion, with nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings, allowing only three hits in the Dodgers’ win over the Mets.
Kershaw got out of trouble by striking out three in the first inning, all with a runner on third base, then struck out three in his last inning, the last of which Tommy Pham, who represented the tying run. Kershaw exulted in triumph, screaming as he walked off the mound.
“I was just tired after that,” Kershaw joked, as shown on SportsNet LA. “After getting that last strikeout there, definitely had some emotions going. I knew I was pretty much done for the night.”
.@ClaytonKersh22 on reaching the 200 win milestone and his emotion at the mound after getting out of the jam in the 7th. pic.twitter.com/fy7edU5rjB— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 19, 2023
“The goal is to win,” Kershaw said. “That’s why tonight is really cool. It’s a team stat, a win. For me to be able to do that 200 times is just a product of being on some really great teams.”
From Rowan Kavner at Fox Sports:
“Tonight’s performance really kind of epitomized who he is as a competitor,” Roberts said. “Just overcoming a three-base error with a team that’s swinging the bats really well and to punch three, to give us that confidence, that momentum going into the bottom of the first inning, that was Clayton. He essentially put us on his back today.”
“On a night where history could be made, Kershaw brought history to life, delivering a performance for which “vintage” is utterly insufficient,” wrote Jon Weisman at his Slayed by Voices newsletter.
Kershaw was appreciative of the milestone, but also downplayed the 200 wins a bit. “There’s been a lot of pitchers that have pitched well but maybe don’t have the team behind them,” he said, per Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times. “Just reflecting on that, and just thankful for being part of great teams, that’s what wins signify to me.”
Kershaw is just the third Dodgers pitcher to reach 200 wins, joining Don Drysdale and Don Sutton. At 200-88, Kershaw is one of only six pitchers to win 200 games before losing 100. Only Whitey Ford (79), Lefty Grove (83), and Pedro Martínez (84) had fewer losses than Kershaw at the time of their 200th win.
Among pitchers with 200 wins, Kershaw’s .694 winning percentage is the best.
Martínez had nothing but praise for Kershaw after the game.
Congrats to an outstanding champ @ClaytonKersh22 on reaching the 200th W in his career.— Pedro Martinez (@45PedroMartinez) April 19, 2023
Your ability to read swings is beautiful to watch! I’m excited for you, may God keep you healthy as you continue this awesome baseball journey #kershaw #200wins
“As for 200, it’s an increasingly rare milestone, in large part due to all of the trends toward reduced pitcher workloads,” wrote Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs, summarizing Kershaw’s game and trying to guess what pitchers might next reach 200 victories.
Austin Barnes, whose 74 games and 440⅔ innings catching Kershaw is second only to A.J. Ellis, reflected on Kershaw’s impact.
“The way he goes about his business and has set the tone for this organization, he has helped so many careers without even probably knowing,” Barnes told reporters. “Sometimes you got to let those guys know about it.”
Barnes and Freddie Freeman organized a champagne toast after the game for Kershaw, who in the video above said “made me uncomfortable.”
From Alden Gonzalez at ESPN:
“This was probably the most receptive to individual attention, even from our guys, that I’ve seen,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw. “He’s all about the team and certainly doesn’t play for any individual accolades or credit, but he understood we wanted to take a moment for him, and he embraced it.”
J.P. Hoornstra at the Orange County Register contrasted the champagne celebration for Kershaw’s 200th win to the shaving cream pie to the face the left-hander got for his first win, in 2008.
Pitching coach Mark Prior, to Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic:
“I think he kind of understands where he’s at, and I think he knows that he’s probably on the shorter end of it — at least that’s the sense I get. … He’s trying not to let the little things bug him the way they have in the past. He’s more focused on the big things and being ready to go out and pitch.”
Oh yeah, Kershaw has now allowed 1,974 hits and 633 walks in his career. That’s 2,607 walks plus hits in 2,606 innings, for a career WHIP of 1.00384, the best of any pitcher with at least 1,500 innings in the live ball era.
Kershaw had a career WHIP of 1.000 or lower after 13 of his 402 starts, the last coming on September 1, 2018 (with 2,066 walks and hits in 2,066⅓ innings). Something to watch for in his next start, perhaps.