There aren’t any superlatives left to describe the kind of season Clayton Kershaw is having as the Los Angeles Dodgers followed up their incredible slug-fest with a more humble performance, beating the San Francisco Giants 4-2, opening a three game lead in the NL West.
With less than 20 games to go this season, the chances of getting caught are getting slimmer, especially considering their current form. This wasn’t a case of bats blasting to every direction like a day before, but the Dodgers still got a home run out of Matt Kemp, sending the ball 437 feet from the plate, the longest of his home runs against the Giants, and he has 15 of those in his career.
His two-run homer in the 6th gave the Dodgers a 4-1 lead which they wouldn’t let go of, not getting shaken up by the RBI Single from Matt Duffy who came on to pinch hit. Kershaw kept blasting away for eight innings before Kenley Janses came on to make his 42nd save of the season, striking out two batters in the ninth inning. Kershaw finished with nine strikeouts in his eight innings, allowing 7 hits, two runs and just one walk.
The only way to compare Kershaw these days seems to be Sandy Koufax, the biggest legend to wear a Dodgers uniform. As Kershaw picked up his 19th win, he is now just another one away from winning 20 f. Only Koufax has more 20-win seasons (3) since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Kershaw won 21 games in 2011, although wins are never the best way to measure a pitcher’s ability. It’s more of a testament to how good the team is in general, while the pitcher itself messes up minimally.
Another way to say the Dodgers are really good while focusing on Kershaw is his 19 wins through the first 25 starts of the season. The last pitcher to win at that pace was Pedro Martinez in 1999, and Kershaw is only the fifth pitcher since the beginning of the divisional era (1969) to be so dominant through his first 25 starts to the season. He’s also leading the league with his ERA, ERA+, FIP, WHIP, hits allowed per nine innings and strikeouts per nine innings.
Obviously, the Dodgers aren’t just Kershaw, but there’s more than one reason he’s being mentioned as an MVP, not just a Cy Young winner. Even if they’re not setting or getting close to hitting records on a daily basis, they seem to be the hottest team in the NL as the playoff come closer. This team is now off to prove it isn’t just flash, big salaries and big names, but also built to win championships, something that will put Kershaw even closer to Koufax.