The Dodgers will play the Nationals starting Friday night in a clash of two National League titans who are off to a slow start. Both teams will look to continue their turnarounds as they send their aces to the mound.
In what is a duel between the top two pitchers in baseball, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer will square off in a pitching duel that is must-watch TV for any baseball fan. Surprisingly, Kershaw and Scherzer have not had many battles despite both being in the National League. Their last matchup was game one of the NLDS in Kershaw, and the Dodgers got the best of Scherzer and the Nationals.
Neither starter had their “A” game as Kershaw went only five innings allowing three runs and struck out seven. Scherzer went six innings allowing four runs on two home runs, and he struck out only five Dodgers. In the 2016 NLDS that was the only time, the two matched up as starting pitchers. Both appeared as relievers in game five of that epic series when Clayton Kershaw recorded his first postseason save of his career to close out the Nationals.
The last time Max and Clayton matched up in the regular season was all the way back in September of 2008. That was when Scherzer was in the NL West and a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kershaw only lasted four innings against Arizona allowing three runs while Scherzer was a bit better, striking out eleven Dodgers in five innings and allowed three runs. It’s been a long time coming as it’s been nearly a decade since we had a Kershaw-Scherzer matchup in the regular season.
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This season through three starts, Max Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP. Clayton Kershaw has a 1-2 record, but a stellar 1.73 ERA and 0.88 WHIP. The difference between Scherzer and Kershaw this season is literally one inning and one run. Mad Max has pitched 27 innings allowing four earned runs and Kershaw has thrown 26 innings allowing five earned runs. Scherzer has been more unhittable as his opponent’s average is a microscopic .147 and Kershaw has allowed hitters to hit .204 against him.
Although Scherzer has been absolutely dominating the past three seasons, Clayton Kershaw still holds a noticeable edge regarding career numbers. Max Scherzer has a lifetime 3.27 ERA, which is almost a full run higher than Kershaw’s lifetime 2.35 ERA. Kershaw also edges Scherzer in WHIP and opponent’s average as Kershaw has a 1.00 WHIP and .206 average allowed compared to Scherzer’s 1.11 WHIP and .225 opponent’s average. Although Scherzer is nearly four years older than Kershaw, Max still trails Clayton by exactly one win. Kershaw has 145 wins, and Scherzer has 144 career wins.
While Scherzer has the absurd strikeout numbers, Kershaw has a 10.7 K/9IP this season, so Clayton has been recording strikeouts at a rapid rate too. Hitters are more likely to put the ball in play against Kershaw than against Scherzer, but regardless, Kershaw is still posting ridiculous stats season after season. Friday night’s game is going to be a dandy as it features the two best pitchers in the game who are both eager to help their club’s rise back to first place. It may only be April, but Friday’s game is sure to have a playoff type feel to it.