Is it possible for a pitcher to take home a Cy Young award despite missing nearly half a season? Judging from what Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw did before he landed on the disabled list and how the rest of his competition has performed since, it sure is.
The southpaw hasn’t pitched since losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 26, but it’s not outrageous to say he’s still the National League’s best pitcher. Despite spotting his competition about two months, he still leads the league in fWAR (5.5) and bWAR (4.8). The biggest question right now is whether or not he’ll return to a big-league mound before the regular season finishes.
The likelihood of that increased with some good news, as J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. News Group reported on Tuesday. Kershaw escaped a 40-pitch bullpen unscathed and is scheduled for a 60-pitch simulated game later this week. As he continues ramping up, the final step before re-entering the Dodgers’ rotation will be one rehab start.
The award has basically been Kershaw’s to lose all season, with a big determination now being how many starts he can rack up upon getting activated off the DL. There’s still about a month left, which is plenty of time for other contenders to separate themselves from the pack by having a strong finish.
Here are seven NL pitchers who have a shot at preventing Kershaw from winning yet another Cy Young. It all depends on how the last month goes.
Baseball sure is a fickle game, isn’t it?
Through his first 16 starts of the 2016 season, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw was creating a whole new meaning to the word “ace”. In just 121 innings of work, the southpaw posted an 11-2 record with a 1.79 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 145 strikeouts and just nine walks allowed.
Whenever Kershaw took the mound, the Dodgers were basically guaranteed a win. That was helpful because it was awfully tough for Los Angeles to come out on top when he wasn’t pitching. Manager Dave Roberts saw his club post a 14-2 record with his ace in control of things, but they were just 27-34 while anxiously waiting for his turn in the rotation to come around again.
After losing his last start on June 26, the Dodgers were just a half game out of a Wild Card spot, but were struggling to find a groove at 41-36, leaving them eight games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants.
The Giants got off to a hot start, it’s an even year and Kershaw had just gone on the DL – all were valid reasons to think the NL West race was over before the calendar even flipped to July. That’s why they play the game, though. LA’s starting rotation hasn’t gotten a whole lot healthier since then, but the entire roster has done nothing but come together as a group and rise to the occasion.
Now that All-Star Week festivities in San Diego are finished, we’re forced with the task of getting through the next few days without any baseball. To pass the time, we’ll do what any self-respecting fan or analyst would do – look back at the first 80-90 games played and see who had the biggest impact.
Below are my first-half MVPs for each of the 30 MLB squads, with some facts to back up why they should be admiring some brand-new, imaginary hardware on their mantle before embarking on the second half of play.
P- Clayton Kershaw (vs. Atlanta Braves): $14,100. I don’t care how expensive Kershaw is, he is a must start against one of the worst offenses in baseball. In 104 career at bats against Kershaw, the Braves’ offense is batting .240, with 35 strikeouts, and a .288 OBP. Kershaw is currently on pace for one of the best seasons in baseball by a pitcher in a long time. In his 86.2 innings pitched in 2016, he owns a 7-1 record, 1.56 ERA, 51 hits against, 105 strikeouts, and only 5 walks.
P- Bartolo Colon (vs. Miami Marlins): $7,000. In 262 career at bats, the Marlins’ offense is batting .279 with a .287 OBP. In his last 10 starts, Colon has given up more than three runs in only one of those starts. He won’t put up elite numbers, but he is a very viable option for solid statistics.
To see the rest of the picks, click the link below:
I typically post specific lineups that fit the salary cap limits, but I won’t have very good wifi connection over the weekend. As a result, I will post multiple players who have favorable match-ups.
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P- Clayton Kershaw (vs. New York Mets): In 91 career at bats against Kershaw, the Mets’ offense is batting .110, with zero home runs, three RBIs, 27 strikeouts, and a .182 OBP. In 2016, Kershaw is 7-1, with a 1.48 ERA, 95 strikeouts, five walks, and 47 hits against in 79 innings pitched.
To see the other 16 picks, click the link below:
Stephen Strasburg is a completely different and much more dominant pitcher this season. In 2015, Strasburg struggled with injuries. This led to an 11-7 record, 3.46 ERA, 155 strikeouts, 26 walks, and a 2.81 FIP in 127.1 innings. So far in 2016, Strasburg is 8-0, with a 2.79 ERA, 86 strikeouts, 18 walks, and a 2.29 FIP in 67.2 innings. Something has clicked and Strasburg is thriving in 2016.
Strasburg’s elite strikeout rate is what propels him to a top-five starting pitcher in fantasy baseball. He is averaging 11.44 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016. On top of his strikeout rate, he is also limiting his earned runs, but his FIP suggests that his ERA should reduce even more.
His mid-to-upper 90’s fastball and filthy breaking pitches are keeping hitters off balance and limiting consistent contact. From a statistical standpoint, see the link below that compares some of the top pitchers in the game and helps depict why Stephen Strasburg is a top-five pitcher in baseball:
To see the chart and read the rest of the article, click the link below:
On Thursday night, Chicago Cubs’ pitcher, Jake Arrieta, threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds. This was Arrieta’s second career no-hitter. His no-hitters are separated by only 8 months, which includes the offseason. Not many Major League Baseball fans would have predicted the success Arrieta has shown over the past two seasons, considering he didn’t blossom into an elite pitcher until he was 28 years old. In his first four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, from the age of 24 to 27, he threw 358 innings with a 5.46 ERA, 277 strikeouts (7 strikeouts per nine innings), and 159 walks (4 walks per nine innings). At the age of 28, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs and his career was about to drastically change. Since stepping on the mound at Wrigley Field, he has thrown 459.1 innings with a 2.21 ERA, 460 strikeouts (9 per nine innings), and 115 walks (2.3 per nine innings).
Here is the real question; does Arrieta’s success over the past year and a half make him the best pitcher in Major League Baseball? Many people would claim that Clayton Kershaw holds that honor, but Arrieta is doing all that he can do to steal that title. Regardless of who is better, both pitchers are in a class far above any other pitcher in the big leagues. To help you make your decision on who is the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, look at the statistical comparisons over the past 3 seasons (including the first few starts from 2016) below:
To see the rest of the article and the argument for both sides, click the link below:
Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, is known for his great fastball and elite breaking ball, but it looks as if he has added another pitch to his arsenal. Tonight against the Atlanta Braves, Kershaw unloaded a 46 MPH breaking ball against Atlanta Braves’ catcher, Tyler Flowers. The pitch was an accident, but perhaps the 3-time Cy Young Award winner should add this to his elite combination of pitches. Kershaw tried to quick pitch Flowers and throw a fastball as he wasn’t ready, but his catcher called another pitch prior to his decision, and Kershaw decided to lob a pitch across the plate in order not to cross up his catcher. While this pitch was called a ball, it wasn’t long before Tyler Flowers was walking to the bench after striking out against the best pitcher in baseball.
Please click the link below to see the video: