The year is 2008. The Los Angeles Dodgers are starting off a season that was followed by marginal 82-80 record that put them fourth in the National League West. The team is aging, and it has showed. A young lefty walks out onto the mound to face off against the reigning World Series champion Red Sox in a meaningless Spring bout. Only this game is different. Every player experiences a point in their career where people take notice, one way or another. For nineteen year old Clayton Kershaw, this was his moment.
It would be Kershaw’s final Spring appearance, but one that would give Dodger fans everywhere hope for the future. Donning a very strange number, as most prospects do during Spring, Kershaw dazzled across four innings of work. Number 96 that day gave up one hit and struck out six without allowing a single run. But it was a moment during the middle of his outing that truly amped-up fans.
Kershaw had Sean Casey on a 1-2 count, and the best curveball in the world reared it’s terrifying head. There is not a more perfect moment in relevantly meaningless baseball history, with Vin Scully on the call:
Poor Sean Casey. A guy who had faced of against some of the greatest hurlers to every play the game of baseball, and he had no idea what was coming. We’re talking about a guy who was a career .302 hitter. A guy who was a three time all-star and was a model of consistency throughout his career. And he made him look like me watching a called strike three during a slow pitch softball game.
And here we are ten years later. Kershaw has won three Cy Young awards, a gold glove, an MVP, and a 7-time all star. He owns a career 2.36 earned run average and has struck out 2120 batters over 10 seasons. What a career it has been, and what Kershaw has done for Los Angeles cannot even fully be measured. He brought hope during a rough time in baseball for the Dodgers, and guided them back to playoff glory. And he’s not done yet.
Clayton Kershaw this spring: 0.00 ERA, 14.2 IP, 19 K.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) March 18, 2018
Number 22 turned the big 3-0 yesterday, and still says he doesn’t feel old. Thirty is a big number for major leaguers, as it’s generally past the half way point of a career. For Kershaw, it seems likely he has the physical capability to pitch into his forties. Just look at his past three seasons. In the 81 regular season games he has started since 2015, Kershaw is 46-15 with a 2.07 ERA. He has averaged about 185 innings in those seasons and struck out 675 versus 83 walks.
Certainly doesn’t seem like a guy who is slowing down anytime soon.Dodgers’ Starting Rotation is Set