This weekend is an important one for the Dodgers, who are currently tied with the Giants for first place in the NL West. The Dodgers will be playing the ever-tough Cardinals, while the Giants travel to Arizona. Staying even or better with the Giants means beating the Cardinals two or three times. The pitching match-ups for this series (no, Kershaw will not be pitching this weekend):
Michael Wacha (2-3) vs. Ross Stripling (0-2) – Ross can get it done, but will need help from both the offense and the bullpen.
Carlos Martinez (4-2) vs. Scott Kazmir (2-3) – Ummm, doesn’t Kazmir have some lingering issue that requires him to go on the DL while Julio Urias comes up to take his place in the starting rotation for a few weeks?
Mike Leake (1-3) vs. Alex Wood (1-3) – Keep your fingers and toes crossed, folks.
Meanwhile, a few words about the great one. Clayton Kershaw has consistently improved himself every single year that he has been in professional baseball. Just when you thought he couldn’t be any better than the prior year, he does it again. His WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) in 2008 for the Dodgers was 1.495. He steadily marched that down to 1.228 in ’09, 1.179 in ’10, and 0.977. After plateauing just a little bit, he then further reduced his WHIP to 0.857 in ’14 and 0.881 in ’15. I guess that wasn’t low enough for Clayton. His WHIP this year sits at an astounding 0.726. That means if he pitches nine innings, on average he will give up just six hits and maybe (or maybe not) one walk. To put that in perspective, the all-time single season record for WHIP (minimum 162 innings) is 0.737 (Pedro Martinez in 2000).
During this short season (2016 so far), Kershaw leads all Major League Baseball Pitching in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) 2.7 games, WHIP 0.726, Walks per nine innings 0.581, Innings Pitched 62, Strikeouts 77, Complete Games and Shutouts (2), Ratio of Strikeouts to Walks 19.25, and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) 1.48. FIP is kinda like ERA, but it’s corrected for things like: Carl Crawford is too slow to get to balls that drop for hits but should be caught.
How does his career compare against all active pitchers? Clayton is third in WAR at 49.6, first in ERA at 2.40, first in win-loss percentage at 67.6%, first in WHIP at 1.0215, first in hits per nine innings at 6.67, second in K’s per nine innings at 9.81, first in home runs per nine innings at 0.54, and first in FIP at 2.58. It just goes on and on.
I’ll bore you with just one more stat. Kershaw is chasing down three historic figures (two hall of famers and one can’t miss hall of famer) to post the all-time low career WHIP. Here’s how he’s doing so far:
Addie Joss 0.9678 (pitched for Cleveland from 1902 to 1910)
Ed Walsh 0.9996 (pitched from 1904 to 1917, mostly for the White Sox)
Mariano Rivera 1.0003 (reliever extraordinaire for the Yankees, 1995 to 2013)
Clayton Kershaw 1.0215 (2008 to current, DODGERS – yeh, brah!)