To think some Los Angeles Dodgers fans and writers/media members (whoops, us!) got nervous about Clayton Kershaw leaving this past offseason with so much on the line in regard to his legacy with the team …
But hey, it was a worry! He wasn’t signed before the lockout and there was real interest from other teams as well as retirement rumors. Meanwhile, some laid back Dodgers fans sat there and were like, “Don’t you realize he’s a few starts away from breaking the all-time franchise record for strikeouts? He ain’t going anywhere.”
The cooler heads prevailed. Kershaw re-signed, concerns about his elbow issues went away, he’s been the best pitcher on the Dodgers’ staff, and on Saturday he passed Don Sutton for that aforementioned record.
That’s an even 2,700 for Kersh, which is four more than Sutton, who holds various other (likely) unbreakable franchise records, such as shutouts (52), games started (533), innings pitched (3,816.1), and potentially wins (233) — depending on Kershaw’s longevity these next few years.
With that, however, it’s important to realize just how incredible Kershaw’s strikeout feat was on Saturday night. Let’s look at the lovely highlight and then break down the numbers.
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Clayton Kershaw breaking the Dodgers’ strikeout record was way more incredible than you thought
It’s kind of already been laid out in the numbers above, but looking at this side-by-side comparison, it’s easy to see how Kershaw is one of the most dominant pitchers in the history of the sport:
- Sutton: 16 years with Dodgers, 550 games, 3,816.1 innings pitched, 15,567 batters faced
- Kershaw: 15 years with Dodgers, 383 games, 2,477.2 innings pitched, 9,752 batters faced (and all counting!)
In the end, Sutton’s 6.1 K/9 clearly showed his style of pitching was different. Kershaw’s 9.8 K/9 ranks 14th all-time among qualified starters. He hit the 2,700 mark in nearly 1,400 fewer innings than Sutton. Wow.
On top of that? Kershaw only trails Walter Johnson (3,509), Bob Gibson (3,117), Steve Carlton (3,031) and John Smoltz (3,011) for the most strikeouts of all time with a single franchise. If he pitches two more healthy, full-ish seasons, he could jump all the way to No. 3.
Never in a million years does anybody need to further explain why Kershaw is one of the greatest to ever step on a mound, but it’s certainly enjoyable to note when it’s evident exactly how above and beyond he truly is in some ways.
Right now, he’s in his age-34 season and could be on pace for a career year, assuming he can stay healthy. He leads the league in WHIP (0.696) despite hardly pitching since the beginning of July. Anytime a Kershaw critic pops up on your timeline, feel free to body them with some pertinent information like this.