Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Clayton Kershaw (Page 5 of 33)

Kershaw has rare stumble in loss to Pirates

Justin Berl/Getty Images

Justin Berl/Getty Images

By Jon Weisman

Ever so rarely, Clayton Kershaw will be less than perfect, and the baseball world will scramble its jets to understand why.

Almost without fail, the why is beside the point. The essential answer is that nobody is always perfect. Not even Kershaw.

In the second inning tonight, the Pirates ambushed the likely National League All-Star starter, scoring every run that it needed in a 4-3 victory, Pittsburgh’s eighth straight home win against the Dodgers.

Kershaw has lost two of those games, allowing four runs on nine hits with two walks in each. In only one other game in the past 12 months has Kershaw allowed at least four runs.

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The unabridged list of Clayton Kershaw walks in 2016

Walks chart

Click to enlarge.

Dodgers at Pirates, 5:07 p.m.
Kershaw CCLVIII: Kershaws I Lay Dying
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Howie Kendrick, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Scott Van Slyke, 1B
Clayton Kershaw, P
Note: Dave Roberts told reporters today that Adrian Gonzalez will be out of the starting lineup tonight and Monday.

By Jon Weisman

There’s the list, the list of the seven times in the 2016 baseball season any of the 414 batters Clayton Kershaw has faced managed to get a base on balls.

They haven’t come in consecutive starts since the first week of the campaign. At his stingiest, Kershaw walked one person (David Wright) in a 156-batter, 33-day stretch.

None of them have scored, with two reaching scoring position.

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Kenley Jansen breaks franchise save record

By Jon Weisman

With a grounder by Anthony Rendon to Justin Turner and a throw to first, Kenley Jansen closed out the Dodgers 4-1 victory over Washington tonight and set the Dodgers’ all-time saves record with the 162nd of his career.

Jansen broke the tie he had forged with Eric Gagne on June 15. It was also Jansen’s 20th save of the season, making him the first Dodger to have five such seasons.

As was the case for his first career save on July 25, 2010, Jansen sealed a victory for Clayton Kershaw, who pitched six shutout innings before allowing his only run in the seventh inning.

Despite pitching in unKershawly heat, the Dodger lefty’s ERA dipped from 1.58 to 1.57, but more dramatically, he fanned eight (including Bryce Harper thrice) while walking none, improving his dominant strikeout/walk ratio to 144/7, or 20.1 to you and me.

Emergency starter Yusmeiro Petit pitched admirably for Washington, going six innings on 90 minutes notice, but was victimized by four extra-base hits, including a pair of homers (by Justin Turner and Joc Pederson) and a pair of doubles (by Corey Seager and Corey Seager).

For Turner, it was his seventh homer of June (since June 7, in fact), giving him the team lead for the month over Seager. The last Dodger …

  • to hit more in June was Matt Kemp, with nine in 2011.
  • to hit double-digits in June was Shawn Green, with 12 in 2002.
  • to be Pedro Guerrero in June was Pedro Guerrero, with 15 in 1985.

In case you missed it: Old glove, new Kershaw

Roberts glove 061616js414

By Jon Weisman

In this video clip, Vin Scully talks about how new Dodger outfielder Will Venable is using an actual old glove of Dave Roberts from 2005, seen above.

[mlbvideo id=”822737883″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
Here are some more notes and news from the past week …

  • Cali Ann’s getting a sibling. Clayton and Ellen Kershaw have a second baby on the way, due in November. Andy McCullough of the Times has the news in this Father’s Day-themed interview with Kershaw, which talks at length about the softening effect parenthood has had on the Dodger ace.
  • Monday’s nationally televised series-opener (ESPN) against the Washington Nationals figures to match Stephen Strasburg (2.90 ERA) against Clayton Kershaw (1.58 ERA). I’m not into win-loss records, but even a cynic like me about them finds it a little glamorous that the two pitchers are a combined 20-1.  Reminder: Strasburg is four months and one day younger than Kershaw.
  • The Dodgers officially announced the signing of the following draft picks: shortstop Errol Robinson (sixth round), right-hander Andre Scrubb (eighth round), right-hander Dean Kremer (14th round), outfielder Darien Tubbs (16th round), third basemen Brock Carpenter (20th round), right-hander Jeff Paschke  (22nd round), second baseman Brandon Montgomery (26th round) and catcher Steve Berman (31st round).
  • Ross Stripling gave a progress report to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com regarding his current hiatus from game action.
  • Chad Billingsley said he hasn’t given up, but the former Dodger right-hander, who hasn’t thrown a competitive pitch in 11 months, told Bruce Hefflinger of the Defiance Crescent-News (his hometown newspaper) that it was “most likely” that his career was over.
  • Scott Radinsky, the one-time Dodger reliever who is the Angels’ bullpen coach, is thankfully recovering from April open-heart surgery after a big scare.
  • Former Dodger catcher Tim Federowicz was designated for assignment by the Cubs.

Van Slyke homer sets up win for Kershaw, record-tying save for Jansen

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By Jon Weisman

You’ve got Clayton Kershaw on the mound. You just want that big hit.

With two out in the sixth inning, 10 Dodgers had reached base, but that critical blow remained but a dream.

Then, Scott Van Slyke made Dodger wishes come true, following singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick with a 405-foot, three-run homer to left to give the Dodgers their first lead. Kershaw made it stand up for his 7 1/3 innings and 11 strikeouts, and Joe Blanton and Kenley Jansen closed the doors and windows for a 3-2 Dodger victory at Arizona.

Dodger all-time save leaders
161 Eric Gagne
161 Kenley Jansen
129 Jeff Shaw
127 Todd Worrell
125 Jim Brewer

For Jansen, it was his 161st career save, tying the Dodger franchise record set by Eric Gagne. Jansen’s first career save was July 25, 2010, to protect a win for … Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw struck out at least 10 and walked no more than one, for the ninth time this season. Curt Schilling holds the MLB record with 13 such games in 2002.

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Clayton Kershaw’s eccentric experience at Chase Field

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Francisco Giants

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 12:40 p.m.
Kershaw CCLVI: Kersh Off the Boat
Kiké Hernández, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Corey Seager, SS
Trayce Thompson, RF
Adrian González, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Scott Van Slyke, RF
A.J. Ellis, C
Howie Kendrick, LF
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

Chase Field has been a mixed bag for baseball’s best pitcher.

Clayton Kershaw pitches there today for the first time since April 11, 2015, when Arizona scored in four different innings — five earned runs in all — in what was his roughest outing of the season.

It was Kershaw’s worst performance since May 17, 2014, when he was knocked out with seven runs in 1 2/3 innings — also at Chase Field.

In between, however, Kershaw one of his vintage starts, striking out 10 while allowing only an unearned run over eight innings at Chase on August 27, 2014.

Overall, Kershaw has a 3.90 ERA in 67 career innings at Arizona. Exactly half of his 12 appearances there have been quality starts, and the Dodgers are 5-7 in those games. On the seven occasions Kershaw has allowed more than one run at Chase, the Dodgers are 1-6.

Turner’s homer is the save for Kershaw

Turner HR

By Jon Weisman

Yep. Uh-huh. Yeah.

You figured Clayton Kershaw would pitch well at San Francisco. He did. You figured the Dodger offense would struggle at San Francisco. It did.

But how would it end?

Thanks to Justin Turner’s heroics, happily for the Dodgers.

Turner’s ninth-inning home run off Santiago Castilla — the Dodgers’ first hit since the first inning — made a winner of Kershaw and Los Angeles over Johnny Cueto and the Giants, 3-2.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 9.52.20 PM

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The 10th anniversary of drafting Clayton Kershaw

Flanked by Dodger scout Calvin Jones and his mother Marianne, 18-year-old Clayton Kershaw signs with the Dodgers. (Ben Platt/MLB.com)

Flanked by Dodger scout Calvin Jones and his mother Marianne, 18-year-old Clayton Kershaw signs with the Dodgers. (Ben Platt/MLB.com)

By Jon Weisman

On June 6, 2006, the Dodgers made their best single front-office decision of this century and long before it.

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Bullpen preserves victory for Kershaw, Dodgers

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By Jon Weisman

For the first time this season, the Dodgers asked their bullpen to go three innings to protect a Clayton Kershaw lead — a 1-0 lead at that.

And the bullpen, which is back on one of its hot streaks during an eventful season, did the job.

Joe Blanton, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen made Kershaw’s six shutout innings stand up, and the Dodgers scored late to finish with a 4-0 victory over Atlanta.

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Kershaw named National League Pitcher of the Month

Los Angeles Dodgers vs New York Mets

By Jon Weisman

Honestly, if there had been a Nobel Pitcher Prize, Clayton Kershaw would have earned it in May.

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Adrian Gonzalez leads Dodgers in NL All-Star voting

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs

All-Star 6-1 part 1By Jon Weisman

For a Dodger team that hasn’t dominated offensively in 2016, the initial National League All-Star voting update yields some unsurprising results.

Adrian Gonzalez is the lone Dodger position player to appear in the top five in any category. Gonzalez is only 18,000 votes behind Brandon Belt of the Giants, though each is more than 600,000 votes behind the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo. Fan voting continues through the end of June at dodgers.com/vote.

Still, 2016 offers a rare All-Star opportunity for the Dodgers. The only time the Dodgers have had the starting and closing pitchers in an All-Star Game was in 1974, when Andy Messersmith went the first three innings and Mike Marshall the final two in a 7-2 NL victory.

All-Star 6-1 Part 2Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen can add their names to that list.

Kershaw, whose WAR is 57 percent higher than the next closest starting pitcher, is the most likely NL pitcher to start the All-Star Game, while Jansen is arguably the top choice to finish it (with Hector Rondon of the Cubs sitting as the top competition right now).

Eleven Dodger pitchers have started an All-Star Game. Believe it or not, none of them are Kershaw.

Among position players, the noteworthy Dodger candidate dating back essentially to Opening Day has been Chase Utley. The 37-year-old started the season strong and hasn’t flagged, posting a .369 on-base percentage, .428 slugging percentage, .349 weighted on-base average and 122 weighted runs created over the first two months.

The problem for Utley is that he’s at a position that is stacked this year, with Washington’s Daniel Murphy (.447 wOBA) and Chicago’s Ben Zobrist (.418 wOBA) in the midst of monster seasons, and New York’s Neil Walker (.362 wOBA) ripping 13 home runs himself.

With a .361 OBP and .555 slugging over the past four weeks — including seven home runs in the past 20 days — Corey Seager has suddenly emerged as the Dodgers’ top position-player candidate, relative to the competition. Despite Seager’s superior stats, fans will need to make an enormous push for Seager to overcome Addison Russell’s lead at the ballot box, though a reserve spot as a consolation prize is in play.

Seager trailed fellow rookie Trevor Story of Colorado, who homered 10 times in April, in wOBA by 113 points on May 1. He has narrowed that gap to 24 points, while playing superior defense, according to the metrics. In fact, a good deal of Seager’s value is tied into his solid defense, which makes him a harder sell on a ballot that only celebrates offense.

Joc Pederson’s eight home runs have kept him on the fringe of All-Star consideration, but the outfield competition is likely to be too stiff for him to return to the All-Star Game after playing there as a rookie in 2015. Similarly, Gonzalez has some respectable numbers, but they’re unlikely enough to push through a group at first base that includes Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, Belt and Rizzo.

Official voting notes:

You may vote in the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Balloting Program a maximum of thirty-five (35) times between April 24, 2016, and June 30, 2016 (limit of five (5) times during any twenty-four (24) hour period, with that twenty-four (24) hour period to begin as of the time of the first vote; following the expiration of the initial twenty-four (24) hour period, the next twenty-four (24) hour period begins at the time of your next vote).

You can also receive the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game ballot by texting VOTE or VOTA to 89269. In Canada, fans can receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 101010.

Kershaw hits strikeout milestones in Dodger win

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By Jon Weisman

Clayton Kershaw completed his extraordinary May with a triumphant finish, if you don’t mind a mildly disappointing footnote.

Kershaw raised his strikeout total since May 1 to 65 — a total not exceeded by a Dodger pitcher in a single calendar month since Sandy Koufax in 1965. For the fourth time in six May starts, Kershaw struck out at least 10 and walked none. He averaged 8.3 innings per game. He allowed 24 baserunners in 49 2/3 innings. His ERA for the month: 0.91.

The 28-year-old phenomenon also set an MLB record by striking out his 100th batter before walking his sixth — Cliff Lee had the record with seven walks for his first 100 strikeouts in 2010 — and currently has a 21.0 strikeout-walk ratio.

Kershaw just can’t boast about his second career 6-0 month. Leaving a game mid-inning for the first time this season, Kershaw settled — happily, one can bet– for a 4-2 Dodger victory, but only after Mets tied the game off reliever Adam Liberatore with two out in the bottom of the eighth.

Adrian Gonzalez’s two-run single in the top of the ninth, and Kenley Jansen’s three-up, three-down save in the bottom of the inning, gave the Dodgers and Kershaw the ending they were counting on.

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Postseason Kershaw: Do you remember only the bad, or also the good?

Cincinnati Reds vs Los Angeles DodgersBy Jon Weisman

No matter what crazy, crazy heights Clayton Kershaw achieves in the regular season, for some, it will always be about what he hasn’t done in the playoffs.

Even after he’s done well in the playoffs.

No, Kershaw hasn’t won a World Series yet, and no one (least of all him) questions whether that’s the ultimate prize. But anyone paying attention should notice that the narrative of Kershaw as a postseason failure doesn’t hold up.

His 3-1 victory on three days’ rest in New York last October in Game 4 of the National League Division Series confirmed — not for the first time — Kershaw’s ability to deliver in the fall, but there are still those who don’t even acknowledge it.

So here I am, back again. I’ve done this before, but let’s recap, from good to bad.

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Kershaw won, Reds 0

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By Jon Weisman

With the Dodger bullpen depleted, with the Dodger offense tired, Clayton Kershaw gave Los Angeles exactly what it needed.

Inning after inning of zeroes.

Despite a late rush, Kershaw’s streak of double-digit strikeouts ended tonight. But nothing else of his season-long dominance did, as he sliced through the Cincinnati Reds on 102 pitches for a 1-0 Dodger victory.

This was the first time in seven starts since April 15 that Kershaw didn’t whiff at least 10 batters. No matter. He has already tied his career high with his third shutout of the season.

Cincinnati basically had one window against Kershaw, and that came one second into the game. Zack Cozart hit the unceremonial first pitch down the left-field line for a double. Billy Hamilton bunted him to third, and Kershaw went 3-0 in the count to Joey Votto.

But two strikes later, Votto lined to short, and two more pitches later, Brandon Phillips grounded to third. For the rest of the game, the Reds would get one runner to second base, and one other runner to first base.

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Late-inning dominance: Jansen and Kershaw

Photos: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Photos: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Here’s a fun comparison* between arguably baseball’s best closer, Kenley Jansen, and baseball’s best starter, Clayton Kershaw.

In the late innings (i.e., after the sixth), they have both been brilliant — and nearly identical.

Kershaw Jansen

*partially inspired by Jayson Stark’s ESPN.com column, which names Kershaw the best National League pitcher of the quarter-season.

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