Clayton Kershaw is still the best pitcher in the world, and he's still getting better
Kershaw's strikeout, walk, and ground ball rates continue to get better and better.
Monday night Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw turned in the kind of masterpiece that is now the norm for the big lefty. Kershaw struck out seven, walked one, and allowed only two hits in a complete game shutout against the Reds (LA 1, CIN 0).
With a Game Score of 89, Kershaw's start Monday was the sixth best pitched game of the season. Now here's the crazy part: it was only Kershaw's third best start of May. He had a Game Score of 95 on May 1, and a Game Score of 93 on May 12. Check out his game log for the month:
|May||Opponent||Result|| IP || H || R || ER || HR || BB || K || TP || Record |
|May 1||vs SD||W 1-0||9.0||3||0||0||0||0||14||101||W(3-1)|
|May 7|| @ TOR ||W 6-2||7.0||8||2||2||0||0||10||112||W(4-1)|
|May 12||vs NYM||W 5-0||9.0||3||0||0||0||1||13||109||W(5-1)|
|May 17||vs LAA||W 5-1||8.0||4||1||1||0||0||11||107||W(6-1)|
|May 23|| vs CIN ||W 1-0||9.0||2||0||0||0||1||7||102||W(7-1)|
Good gravy that is ridiculous. Fifty-five strikeouts and two walks? Only 20 hits allowed in 42 innings? Kershaw still has another start left this month too. He has a chance to become the first pitcher to go 6-0 in a calendar month this season. Only two pitchers did it last season (Jake Arrieta and Joe Kelly).
Overall this season Kershaw is 7-1 with a 1.48 ERA (252 ERA+). He leads MLB in innings (79), strikeouts (95), WHIP (0.66), walk rate (0.6 BB/9), strikeout-to-walk rate (19.00), shutouts (three), FIP (1.38), and WAR (3.6). Kershaw has a 2.07 ERA (176 ERA+) in his last 1,207 innings dating back to 2011. That's crazy.
"Our expectations in this clubhouse for him are unfair," said catcher A.J. Ellis to reporters, including Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times, following Monday's game. "What we expect him to do, each time he pitches, it's definitely unfair. Yet he meets them. I know we all know how fortunate we are. I hope all of baseball knows and understands what they're watching right now."
The most impressive thing about Kershaw is not the sheer dominance. It's that he's still getting better with each passing season. Take a look at his strikeout, walk, and ground ball rates over the years. They keep improving:
The guy is already a three-time Cy Young award winner -- you could easily argue he should have won the last five Cy Young awards -- and yet he keeps outdoing himself. It seems impossible that a pitcher this good could continue to get better, but Kershaw is doing it. This 2016 version is the best one yet.
The Dodgers are 9-1 when Kershaw starts this season and 14-22 in all other games. There's a lot of season left, but at this point it's not crazy to start talking about Kershaw potentially winning his second NL MVP award.
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