On the eve of the 2015 Dodgers-Mets National League Division Series opener, news broke that Vin Scully will not be broadcasting during the 2015 postseason due to a medical procedure. This news closely followed the announcement that Vin would not be able to broadcast the final regular season home series against the Padres due to a cold. We sincerely hope that Vin is okay, in terms of his general health. We wish Vin a speedy recovery. Get well soon.
Next season is shaping up to be Vin’s last year for the Dodgers. What a great thing it would be if he could start off each game with “It’s Time for World Champion Dodgers Baseball”! Let’s win this one for Vin.
The first game of the postseason is shaping up to be a dandy of a competition. Two great young pitchers will be pitching against one another. Both Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw are just 27 years old. (Did you ever notice that Clayton was born in 1988, the last year these Dodgers won the World Series?)
This is deGrom’s second year in the major leagues. deGrom was not drafted out of high school. At Stetson University, Jacob played his first two years as a light-hitting, strong armed shortstop. He first pitched in May 2009, was drafted by the Mets in 2010, then underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2010. deGrom’s first really good year was 2012, when he had a 0.997 WHIP (Walks plus hits per innings pitched) pitching for A/A+ minor league teams. The following year of 2013 was a transition year, when he was pushed through both AA and AAA, amassing a mediocre WHIP of 1.449. The work that year was worth it for both Jacob and the Mets, as his first two years with the Mets have been spectacular. Those two years include a Rookie of the Year award last year and an All-Star performance this year. His WHIP this year is a low 0.979.
Clayton Kershaw took a very different path to the major leagues. Clayton was drafted in the first round (seventh pick) straight of high school in 2006. He spent just two and a half years in the minor leagues, being promoted straight from AA Jacksonville to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. During his minor league work, he was always unhittable, giving up 6.4 hits per nine innings. After the rookie league, he struggled with his command. His walks per nine innings were at first high, but shrunk each year (4.6 in 2007 and 2.8 in 2008). His command improvement record has continued throughout his MLB career – he just gets better every year.
This mindset of Kershaw – wanting to surpass himself every year – has led him to be one of the best pitchers ever. He has lead the majors in ERA four years in a row (2011-2014). He led the National League in strikeouts three of the last five years. Clayton has won the Cy Young Award three times, and last year won the Most Valuable Player award. His career ERA of 2.43 is the lowest of any starting pitcher who pitched after the dead-ball period. His career WHIP of 1.033 ranks fourth all-time. In order for Kershaw to achieve the best all-time career WHIP, he will have to best the following three men:
- Addie Joss, WHIP 0.968, pitched for Cleveland Bronchos/Naps from 1902 to 1910.
- Ed Walsh, WHIP 1.000, pitched for the Chicago White Sox from 1904 to 1917
- Mariano Rivera, WHIP 1.000, relief pitcher extraordinaire for the New York Yankees from 1995 to 2013
During 2015, Clayton Kershaw and his career WHIP bypassed the following great pitchers
- John Ward 1.044 (1878-1894)
- Pedro Martinez 1.054 (1992-2009)
- Christy Mathewson 1.058 (1900-1916)
- Trevor Hoffman 1.058 (1993-2010)
Other active pitchers who have low career WHIPs include:
- Madison Bumgarner 1.111, 27th all-time
- David Price 1.132, 43rd all-time
- Cole Hamels 1.147, 64th all-time
Pitching and defense are key in the postseason. Last year, the Dodgers had the starting pitching, but had a weak bullpen. So weak, that Clayton Kershaw was arguably left in too long twice against the Cardinals. This year, the bullpen appears better, with a resurgent Chris Hatcher taking on the 8th inning setup man role.
Shoring up the defense was a key off-season priority for the front office. Matt Kemp, whose hips, legs, and ankles won’t allow him to move fast in the outfield like he did in earlier years, was traded. Hanley Ramirez, always known as a great bat but a liability on the field at shortstop, was allowed to go the free agent route. Joc Pederson was installed as the everyday center fielder and even now, Kike Hernandez has also done a solid job in center field. Other positive changes up the middle included trades for Yasmani Grandal, Howie Kendrick, and Jimmy Rollins.
Which brings us to Corey Seager. Yes, Jimmy Rollins provides the necessary stellar fielding at shortstop. However, we all know, and have written about, his shortcomings offensively this year. Corey Seager may not be quite as good as Rollins defensively, although he has shown that he is more than competent out there. Where Seager really shines is at the plate. Since he was called up from the AAA Oklahoma Dodgers, Corey has had consistently good at bats. He is quite calm at the plate and gets the job done, whether against right-handed pitchers or left-handed pitchers. His calmness is amazing given his age (21 years old). Much of this is likely attributable to his spending time with his older brother, Kyle, during the off season.
Here are your 2015 National League Division Series Dodgers:
Starting Pitchers – Clayton Kershaw (L), Zack Greinke (R), Brett Anderson (L), Alex Wood (L)- possible bullpen?
Bullpen – Kenley Jansen (R), Chris Hatcher (R), JP Howell (L), Luis Avilan (L), Pedro Baez (R), Yimi Garcia (R), Joel Peralta (R)
Catchers – AJ Ellis (R), Yasmani Grandal (S)
Infield – Adrian Gonzalez (L), Howie Kendrick (R), Chase Utley (L), Corey Seager (L), Jimmy Rollins (S), Justin Turner (R)
Outfield – Carl Crawford (L), Joc Pederson (L), Andre Ethier (L), Justin Ruggiano (R), Kike Hernandez (R), Yasiel Puig (R)
Let’s win this one for Vin.