Dodgers Lineup:Puig 9Crawford 7Kemp 8Gonzalez 3Uribe 5M.Ellis 4A.J. Ellis 2Punto 6Kershaw 1
Clayton Kershaw celebrates after the Dodgers clinched on Thursday. Photo: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Whether it is Opening Day or game number 155, a Clayton Kershaw start is a must-see. Kershaw has pitched a spectacular season, and the 25-year old southpaw has even some people whispering M.V.P. Kersh will probably not pick up the Most Valuable Player award this season (although he really does deserve it), but he is almost a shoe-in for the NL Cy Young Award. The only statistical area where Kersh is not sparkling as bright is in the win-loss column. Not that wins and losses even matter when determining whether a pitcher is good or not, but most of the voters for these season awards factor a good season record into their consideration. Kershaw could collect his 15th win on Saturday in San Diego, and 15 wins is plenty for him to win the Cy Young in my opinion.
Kershaw is still leading the league in ERA with a miniscule 1.94. His closest Cy Young competition, rookie sensation Jose Fernandez, is second with a 2.19 ERA. Kershaw also leads in WHIP (0.93), and strikeouts (214). His teammate Zack Greinke has one more win than him with 15. Low run support has always hindered Kershaw’s numbers, but his dominance can never be overshadowed. He’s the best pitcher or even all-around player in baseball. He’s even been decent with the bat and is hitting .167 this season with 12 hits (including a homerun and 3 doubles), 10 RBIs, and 6 runs.
Kershaw has been excellent in the field as well, and he might as well be mentioned
Burch Smith shutout the Braves in his last start for his first career win. Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
when talking about the Gold Glove award too. He’s only made one error, and he has 6 pickoffs. The 6 pickoffs is actually low for him. Last season he had a career-high 11 pickoffs.
Against the Padres, Kersh is 8-6 with a 2.61 ERA in his career. He is 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 8 starts at Petco Park. He lost to San Diego back in April after allowing 5 runs on 7 hits in 5 1/3 innings. He also lost to San Diego on June 5th after going 6 innings and allowing 3 runs on 7 hits. Can Kersh snap this little losing streak against the Padres? Kershaw lost last time out against the Giants after allowing 3 runs on 8 hits with 6 strikeouts and no walks over 7 innings of work. Kershaw is working on extra rest, so we will see how that will affect him on Saturday. He’ll have to watch out for Chris Denorfia who has homered three times against Kersh in the past.
Rookie right-hander Burch Smith will counter Kershaw. The 23-year old will be making his 6th start for the Padres. He’s been hammered for 28 hits in 24 2/3 innings thus far. He’s already allowed 5 homeruns. In fact James Loney was the first one to hit a homerun against him ironically. Burch has struck out 32, so the Dodgers better be patient at the plate. This will be the youngster’s first start against the Dodgers. Last time out in Atlanta, Burch picked up his first career win versus the Braves. He pitched 7 shutout innings and only allowed 3 hits while striking out 10 and walking 2. Impressive start.
Don Mattingly will be tip toeing through the next eight games. He would love to bubble wrap his starters and open them upon game one of the NLDS. But the starters will need to play here and there so that they are not rusty for playoff time. Obviously Mattingly is not making a big push to try to win home field advantage. He is confident that his team can win on the road. With a hot hitting Cincinnati team inching closer to a postseason spot, it frightens me to think about the Dodgers beginning the NLDS in Cincinnati.
Hanley Ramirez will only play three or four of the remaining games according to Mattingly. Andre Ethier will play some in order to test his ankle. Matt Kemp might get the most starts since the outfielder has been gone a lengthy amount of time this season with three different DL stints.
While Drew Butera at bats are pretty painful to watch, I can’t complain much. We are the NL West Champs! I’m ready for Blue October!
Tune into Prime Ticket at 5:40 p.m. and join us back here for the recap.