Drafted out of high school in Texas by the team from Chavez Ravine in the first round in 2006, he was the seventh overall pick, a young pitcher being hyped for future greatness.
That greatness didn’t show up in the early years. In fact, Kershaw produced a mediocre won-loss record of 5-5 in his rookie year in 2008. He followed that up the next season with a won-loss record of 8-8.
The light bulb seemed to turn on for the young right-hander in 2010, a year in which he produced his first winning record. It was 13-10. 2011 was successful, as well. It was his breakthrough year. Kershaw’s final stats reveal that he won 21 games while losing only 5.
Graphic via net78
His mound excellence did not pass unrecognized. The Dodgers ace won his first of three Cy Young awards. He was invited to his first All Star game. To date, he has been an All Star five times. Kershaw also won a Gold Glove for fielding excellence and topped all National League pitchers with wins. There’s more.
This superb pitcher also led the league in strikeouts and in Earned Run Average. It was as good a season as any pitcher has had in this era. And it was going to be hard to top.
But Kershaw did top it. He produced a won-loss record of 21-3 in 2014, led the league in wins and in Earned Run Average, was rewarded with another Cy Young award (his third) and, if that were not enough, he pitched his first and, to date, only no-hitter. That took place on June 15, 2014.
Kershaw has clearly been a top pitcher and Los Angeles rewarded him for his contribution with a huge seven year contract worth $215 million. It runs until 2020.
The question facing Kershaw and the Dodgers when this year began was whether or not he could improve on his performance in 2014. He got off to an uncharacteristically slow start, although it wasn’t reflected in his Earned Run Average.
Nevertheless, as the second half of the season began two weeks ago, Kershaw turned his first start into a complete game shutout of the New York Mets. He appeared to be almost unhittable in that game.
It would surprise nobody if that shutout turns into the catalyst that leads this true ace to a spectacular Kershaw-like second half.
Good pitching always stops good hitting. And Clayton Kershaw is every bit a good pitcher … make that a great pitcher.
Graphic via espn