Results tagged ‘ Clayton Kershaw ’

Lee Dominates; Who’s Your Cy Young?

Cliff Lee threw his sixth shutout last night. That’s the most in the big leagues since Randy Johnson threw six for Seattle and Houston in 1998. It’s also the most in the National League since Tim Belcher threw eight for Los Angeles in 1989 and the most for the Phillies since Steve Carlton threw six in 1982.

Lee has a 0.37 ERA in his last six starts. Wow, you say? Wow, indeed. Elias Sports Bureau found only two other pitchers in Phillies history had a 0.40 ERA or better in a six-start span: Carlton in 1972 and Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1915. Here is something else interesting from Elias: Lee is 16-7 with a 2.47 ERA and Roy Halladay is 16-5 with a 2.49 ERA. The only other pair of teammates over the past 40 seasons with 16 or more wins and an ERA under 2.50 on-or-before Labor Day was Pedro Martinez (17-4, 2.22 ERA) and Derek Lowe (18-6, 2.33 ERA) for Boston in 2002.

Which brings me to this: Who is the National League Cy Young?

I understand why, but Phillies fans say it’s either Halladay or Lee. Period. It seems everybody here forgets about Clayton Kershaw, who is having an incredible season in Los Angeles. Let’s take a look at Kershaw, Halladay, Lee, Ian Kennedy (who leads the league in wins) and Cole Hamels (who would be more in the conversation if he had a couple more wins).

League rankings are in parenthesis:

  • Wins: Kennedy – 18 (1), Kershaw – 17 (2), Halladay – 16 (3), Lee – 16 (3), Hamels – 13 (9).
  • ERA: Kershaw – 2.45 (2), Lee – 2.47 (3), Halladay – 2.49 (4), Hamels – 2.63 (6), Kennedy – 2.96 (10).
  • Complete games: Halladay – 7 (1), Lee – 6 (2), Kershaw – 5 (3), Hamels – 2 (5), Kennedy – 1 (17).
  • Shutouts: Lee – 6 (1), Kershaw – 2 (2), Kennedy – 1 (4), Halladay – 0 (NA), Hamels – 0 (NA).
  • Innings: Kershaw – 205.2 (1), Lee – 203.2 (2), Halladay – 202.2 (3), Kennedy – 194.1 (6), Hamels – 185 (10).
  • Strikeouts: Kershaw – 222 (1), Lee – 204 (2), Halladay – 195 (3), Hamels – 169 (8), Kennedy – 167 (10).
  • Opponents OPS: Kershaw – .566 (1), Hamels – .572 (2), Halladay – .591 (4), Lee – .599 (6), Kennedy – .660 (10).
  • Base runners per 9 innings: Hamels – 8.90 (1), Kershaw – 9.28 (2), Lee – 9.50 (3), Halladay – 9.68 (4), Kennedy – 10.44 (8).
  • Strikeout-to-walk ratio: Halladay – 7.50 (1), Lee – 5.10 (2), Hamels – 4.45 (3), Kershaw – 4.44 (9), Kennedy – 3.27 (10).
  • WAR: Halladay – 7.2 (1), Kershaw – 6.2 (2), Lee – 5.9 (3), Hamels – 5.2 (4), Kennedy – 3.8 (11).

We can drop Kennedy from the conversation. He leads the league in wins, but wins aren’t truly indicative of a pitcher’s performance. (The bullpen blew leads in two of Halladay’s last three starts, which would have given him 18 wins.) I think Hamels would have a better shot, but in the end missing a couple starts will hurt his overall numbers when compared to Kershaw, Halladay and Lee. Now ask yourself this question: If you were a baseball writer in Milwaukee or Houston or Florida or Colorado, who is having the best season of the remaining three? Kershaw has more wins, innings and strikeouts; a better ERA, opponents OPS and base runners per 9 innings than Halladay and Lee. Halladay has more complete games and a better WAR and K-to-BB ratio than the other two. Lee has more shutouts.

Kershaw’s edge over Halladay and Lee in some of those categories is slight. Kershaw could have the edge nationally, but I’ve got to think a strong finish from Halladay or Lee, especially if Lee keeps doing what he’s doing, puts one of them ahead at the end. My vote? Halladay. He has been more consistent than Lee and he’s the undisputed ace on a rotation of aces. And the differential between Halladay and Kershaw in some of those categories is negligible. The tie goes to the best pitcher in baseball, who is playing for the best team in baseball.

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Chooooch, Rauuuul, Chan Ho and More In Game 1

chooch 1014 b.jpgSome quick hits after the Phillies’ 8-6 victory over Los Angeles in Game 1 of the NLCS:

  • Since the NLCS moved to a seven-game format in 1985, the team taking a 1-0 lead has won 16 of 23 series, including 14 of the previous 16. Eight of the 10 NL teams that took a 1-0 lead on the road have reached the World Series, including the last seven.
  • In the NLCS and ALCS since ’85, the Game 1 winner is 28-18.
  • Carlos Ruiz hit a three-run homer in the fifth against Clayton Kershaw to make it 3-1. Ruiz, a career .246 hitter in the regular season, has hit .354 (17-for-48) with three doubles, two home runs, 10 RBIs and eight walks in his last 15 playoff games. “He likes the bright lights,” Ryan Howard said.
  • Howard smacked a two-run double to right field in the fifth to give the Phillies a 5-1 lead. It was Howard’s 17th and 18th RBIs in the postseason, which set a Phillies playoff record. Howard has 18 RBIs in 22 postseason games. Mike Schmidt had 16 RBIs in 32 postseason games.
  • Dodgers left-hander George Sherrill has allowed just two home runs to left-handed hitters the past two seasons: June 14, 2008, against Adam LaRoche and last night to Raul Ibanez. “I think that was a shock for everybody, especially the walks, which really hasn’t been something that he has done a lot of,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of Sherrill. “You know, that was a blow.”
  • Cole Hamels allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings. He got rattled in the fifth when Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley could not turn a double play. Manny Ramirez followed and hit a 2-0 changeup for a two-run home run to cut the lead to 5-4. “It’s tough because you’re battling,” Hamels said. “I got exactly what I wanted and unfortunately the results didn’t happen. It takes a lot out of you because these guys are very tough hitters, so when you do get them in a situation where you can seal the deal, it takes a lot to really get through that. I really thought we had that. It’s the process I’ve had to go through all year – learning how to deal with my emotions and learning to control them and forgetting about what just happened.”
  • Hamels went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts last year. He is 1-1 with a 6.97 ERA in two starts this postseason, but sounded upbeat after the game. Everybody in the clubhouse thought Hamels had thrown much better than his line indicated, for what that’s worth.
  • Chan Ho Park pitched great. He entered the game in the seventh inning with a runner on second and no outs. He got Ramirez to ground out to Pedro Feliz to keep Andre Ethier at second. He struck out Matt Kemp and got Casey Blake to ground out to Utley to end the inning. It was the pitching performance of the night. “I thought he was outstanding,” Rich Dubee said. Charlie Manuel and Dubee said they did not consider sending Park back out to start the eighth. They had Ryan Madson rested, and did not want Park going out throwing 50 pitches his first time back since Sept. 16.

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Random thought: I’m looking forward to seeing Pedro Martinez pitch today in Game 2.

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Kershaw vs. Hamels in Game 1

kershaw.jpgIt’s Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw (8-8, 2.79 ERA) vs. Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels (10-11, 4.32 ERA) in Game 1 of the NLCS.

Kershaw is 0-3 with a 6.45 ERA (16 earned runs in 22 1/3 innings) in four starts and two postseason relief appearances in his career against the Phillies. He is 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this season.

“That was a long time ago,” said Kershaw, asked about this season’s struggles against the Phillies. “I think I’ve gotten better since then. I think I’ve figured some stuff out from the beginning of the season to now, and there’s a lot of stuff obviously I have to change from those starts. But nothing specific or nothing that I can pinpoint, it’s just go out there and pitch the way that I’ve been pitching the past couple times out and don’t worry about what’s happened in the past. I think that’s the most important thing for me.”

Here are Kershaw’s regular-season splits against the Phillies: Jimmy Rollins .273 (3-for-11, one double, one RBI, one hit by pitch); Shane Victorino .125 (1-for-8, one RBI, two strikeouts); Chase Utley .300 (3-for-10, one double, one home run, one RBI, two walks, four strikeouts); Ryan Howard .125 (1-for-8, one double, three RBIs, three walks, three strikeouts, one sacrifice fly); Jayson Werth .300 (3-for-10, one walk, two strikeouts); Raul Ibanez .400 (2-for-5, one double, two walks); Pedro Feliz .500 (2-for-4, one double, two walks); Carlos Ruiz .000 (0-for-2, two walks, one strikeout) and Ben Francisco .000 (0-for-2, one walk).

Hamels has fared better against the Dodgers. He threw a shutout against them at Dodger Stadium on June 4. He went 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts against them in last year’s NLCS to earn series MVP honors. He is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four career regular-season starts against them.

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Got to LA in one piece yesterday. Stayed Monday night near the Denver airport, which I’m pretty sure is somewhere in Nebraska. Flew to LA. Got stuck in traffic on the 110. Got some In-N-Out. Did laundry. Took a NyQuil and went to bed.

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Happ Making His Case

happ 0720.jpgThe numbers are impressive.

J.A. Happ is 7-0 with a 2.68 ERA after he threw seven scoreless innings yesterday against the Marlins at Landshark Stadium. He is 5-0 with a 2.74 ERA in 11 starts since he replaced Chan Ho Park in the rotation.

Happ leads National League rookies in wins, ERA and opponents average (.222). He is second in innings (94). He is third in strikeouts (65). He is the only rookie to throw a shutout this season.

He is a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate.

Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson (4-0, 2.85 ERA), Milwaukee’s Casey McGehee (.321, six homers, 27 RBIs), St. Louis’ Colby Rasmus (.270, 11, 34), Colorado’s Seth Smith (.305, 8, 25) and Los Angeles’ Ramon Troncoso (4-0, 1.70 ERA, nine holds) are a few rookies who can make claims for Rookie of the Year.

But Happ … he filled a huge void in the rotation for the defending World Series champions. His ERA is fourth best amongst all pitchers in the National League. Only Dan Haren (1.96 ERA), Tim Lincecum (2.27 ERA) and Matt Cain (2.32 ERA) are better. His opponents average is fifth best amongst all pitchers in the National League. Only Haren (.187), Clayton Kershaw (.193), Yovani Gallardo (.208) and Lincecum (.214) are better.

Of course, what makes Happ’s Rookie of the Year candidacy more interesting is that he could be included in a trade for Roy Halladay. If the Blue Jays insist on a young, Major League-ready starter — a starter they can control for the next several years — Happ is the guy.

The Phillies could use a guy like Happ in their rotation for the next several years.

The problem is they could use Halladay this year.

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