If he keeps this up, pretty soon we will be talking not about how many Cy Young awards Clayton Kershaw wins, but whether or not he is going to change his name to Cy Young. You know, sort of like a stage name the way the cowboy actor did so for professional reasons when he swapped Marion Morrison for John Wayne.
At the least Kershaw has earned the swagger that Big John assumed in his flicks. At the moment, as this 2014 season drifts into the hottest months of summer, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ southpaw is sizzling. After his last start the other day against the Colorado Rockies, Kershaw (10-2) had not allowed a run in 36 straight innings.
It is difficult not to gush about Kershaw, although it is intriguing to note that his 36 straight scoreless innings is only the third best mark ever by a Dodger pitcher. The Dodgers seem to breed this excellence. While wearing Dodger blue Orel Hershiser went unscored upon for a Major League record 59 innings in 1988. In 1968, Hall of Famer Don Drysdale threw 58 scoreless innings.
For the moment, Kershaw can keep his achievement in perspective by noting that he is only ranked third on the team list. However, his mark is better than most of the rest of the world, so it is still something to be proud of accomplishing.
Kershaw broke into the majors at 20 and is only 26 in his seventh big-league season. As he approaches his next start, his lifetime record of 87-48 is almost 40 games over .500. He is a two-time Cy Young winner and at the moment is leading the National League in earned run average for the fourth straight season. As almost an after-thought hobby he makes enough National League batters look hopeless to lead the league in strikeouts twice – so far. And in an era where starting pitchers have been cheapened by heavily stacked bullpens looming over their shoulders, Kershaw is one of the few whom managers permit to dabble with complete games.
There is nothing that the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder can do about the state of the game that encourages a manager’s mistrust, but it is the only thing in which he fails to compare favorably with the all-time greats.
Most recently, on July 3, Kershaw gave up two singles and struck out eight in a victory over the Colorado Rockies. In a June game Kershaw no-hit the Rockies while striking out 15 and nearly put a perfect game on the board. This just proves, like the rest of humanity, that Kershaw is not perfect, only darned close.
Reacting to each of his magnificent performances as if surprised and seemingly taking it all in with wide-eyed expressions, Kershaw prudently is wise to show respect for the history of the sport. The rest of the baseball world can just marvel at his every-five-days unveilings of pitching greatness and enjoy the show.