In tossing a complete game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, the two-time Cy Young winner improved his record to 13-2 and lowered his MLB-leading ERA to 1.71. Just when you think there are no new levels for the left-hander to reach, he proves you wrong.
If this all seems like old hat for Kershaw, that's because it is. Look at this stat provided by MLB's Stat of the Day Twitter account:
.@ClaytonKersh22 has won 10 straight decisions, and owns a 0.94 ERA over the course of the streak – one that encompasses 11 starts.— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) August 1, 2014
Just in case that doesn't do anything for you, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times also had this little nugget about Kershaw after his latest complete-game effort:
Clayton Kershaw has 5 CG. No major league team (except #Dodgers) has more than 5 CG.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) August 1, 2014
Going over the numbers the 26-year-old has put up this season, he's been even better in 2014 than he was last year, when everyone was talking about how historically great he was.
The last number, strikeout-to-walk ratio, is alarming. He has 150 strikeouts to just 15 walks. If that trend holds through the rest of 2014, Kershaw will more than double his previous career-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.59 in 2011).
Kershaw told Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com after Thursday's win that one reason he's so successful is his approach on the mound never changes, regardless of the situation:
You want to be the same from the first inning to the ninth inning. You want to be the same from April to October. I kind of base it on everything you put in; you need to be 100 percent by the ninth inning and by October and, if you don't, then you probably need to change something.
Saxon talked about how Kershaw's dominance impacted the Dodgers' strategy at the trade deadline, curbing the need to strike a deal:
Sure, they would have loved to add David Price or Jon Lester to their team. They tried, balking at other teams who insisted they include a package of their finest prospects.
Perhaps the No. 1 reason they didn't feel compelled to do so is that they have Kershaw, who is better than both of the pitchers who were traded. In fact, you could have made an argument that Price and Lester might have slotted as the Dodgers' No. 3 starter behind Zack Greinke, especially if you think of it as breaking up the lefties in a rotation.
It's baffling, especially in this pitching-rich era of baseball we are watching, to see one man keep getting better each year. No one is supposed to dominate to this degree when you think about how parks have gotten smaller and athletes are taking over the game.
What's Clayton Kershaw's most impressive 2014 stat?
Yet when you watch Kershaw pitch, it's like watching a Little League World Series game, because the hitters have no chance. He's always around the strike zone, throws every pitch with confidence and isn't afraid to throw off-speed stuff in fastball counts and vice versa.
Los Angeles has to feel good knowing it has an ace like Kershaw waiting to slam the door on opponents as it looks to snag a playoff spot in the National League, as the lefty all but guarantees a win every five days.
The Dodgers are making another run in the second half, winning eight of their last 10 games to move 3.5 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. With Kershaw on the mound in Game 1 of any playoff series, opposing teams might as well start planning to climb out of a hole.
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