Clayton Kershaw was fantastic Wednesday; he was perfect. He’s been the best pitcher in baseball, in my opinion. Since 2010, he’s third in WAR with 25.4, behind Felix Hernandez (26.5) and Justin Verlander (26.9). It’s long been discussed, however, that FIP based WAR might underrate Kershaw a little. If we use RA9-WAR, we get the same pitchers, in a different order. Kershaw reigns supreme at 29.7; Verlander and Hernandez follow accordingly with 25.6 and 25.5, respectively. Kershaw’s been great for quite some time, but he’s doing something he’s never came close to doing before, according to K-BB%.
Over the past 3 seasons, Kershaw has posted strikeout percentages of: 25.4, 25.6, and 34.4, while posting walk rates of: 7.0, 5.6, and 3.2. His strikeouts are through the roof, as his swinging strike rate, while his walk rate has plummeted even further. Kershaw, due to injury isn’t a “qualified” pitcher, at the moment. Nonetheless, what he’s doing is historic.
|1999||Pedro Martinez||Red Sox||37.50%||4.40%||33.10%||0.35||0.325||76.90%||42||28||N/A|
|2000||Pedro Martinez||Red Sox||34.80%||3.90%||30.80%||0.71||0.236||86.60%||35||46||N/A|
|2001||Pedro Martinez||Red Sox||35.80%||5.50%||30.30%||0.39||0.307||75.90%||53||36||N/A|
|2014||Chris Sale||White Sox||30.90%||4.10%||26.80%||0.55||0.232||75.40%||54||55||67|
Since 1965, only Pedro Martinez has posted a better K-BB% as a starter, with at least 60 innings pitched. We’re in a different era, strikeouts are more prevalent than ever, but, still…come on. Kershaw’s doing something that’s nearly unheard of. He’s started 10 games. He’s struck out at least nine batters in seven on them. Regression might take over; it probably will, at least a little bit, but I’m not betting against Kershaw. Not this year. Maybe not ever.
Today’s schedule gives us, quite possibly, the most unfair matchup of the year. In some ways, it’s not Marco Estrada versus the Rockies, it’s Estrada versus Coors Field. Estrada’s home run issues haven’t been containable this season, and now he has to go to the most unfriendly environment for pitchers in the majors. Christian Bergman will square off against Estrada. I like the Brewers’ offense versus him, too.
The White Sox-Twins matchup likely won’t feature as many fireworks as the one in Colorado, but there are plenty of options versus both starting pitchers. Despite Ricky Nolasco’s roster spot on the Twins, it’s apparent his game hasn’t been purified in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
The Diamondbacks-Giants game also has multiple options on both sides; Lincecum is pitching, so Paul Goldschmidt is a must start.
Finally, we have two lefties that have struggled a good deal versus right handed batters: Mike Minor and Joe Saunders. The Angels are fantastic versus left handed pitching. So are the Nationals. Minor hasn’t been able to keep the ball in the yard this year, in part because neither of his fastballs are sinking as much as they did last season, so it’s not hard to see a home run or two being in the cards.
The Daily Five
James Shields – $16,238
There aren’t a ton of bargain options I like tonight, so I’ll give you my favorite mid-tier option. Here we are in June, and Shields is having another good season. His strikeouts are down a little, but so are his walks.
Anthony Rendon – $6,170
Rendon’s surpassed my expectations so far. Tonight, he has a platoon advantage against a pitcher struggling with keeping the ball in play.
The Rockies’ offense has been a little depleted lately, but Estrada seems like the perfect guy to fix that.
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