Over the past six seasons, Clayton Kershaw has grown accustomed to being a statistical oddity. He’s been sitting pretty at the very top of the league in terms of ERA and WHIP (1.83 and 0.92 last year), has two Cy Young Awards, and actually seems to be getting better.
On Wednesday, he threw a no-hitter. In typical Kershaw fashion, it was an improbable performance. Kershaw struck out a career-high 15 Colorado Rockies in an outing that would have been a perfect game but for Hanley Ramirez’ error on a routine grounder (it wasn’t a borderline call either, just a very wide throw).
The lefty completed the game in 107 pitches, which is remarkably efficient considering the number of strikeouts. By comparison, it took his teammate Josh Beckett 128 pitches to no-hit the Phillies last month. And Johan Santana took 134 pitches to complete his no-hitter two years ago, and some feel that high pitch count may have contributed to career-shortening shoulder issues.
Given his $31 million-a-year salary, Kershaw was paid roughly $10,000 per pitch during his best-ever outing. That’s a bargain for the Dodgers and good news for Kershaw, whose efficient dominance provides him with a bit of protection from stress injuries. The crazy thing about Kershaw’s success is that it’s actually sustainable.
And it wasn’t as if he was whiffing a team with a minor-league lineup like the Mets or the Padres. He tamed a Rockies teams that owns the best batting average in the bigs (.281) and is second in runs scored. Pitchers may be dominating post-Biogenesis baseball – 26 MLB starters have sub-3.00 ERAs – but Kershaw is taking the trend to the next level. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he's the first pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter with 15 Ks and no walks. Kershaw is 26, so you can look forward to a lot more firsts in his career.
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