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Clayton Kershaw

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Clayton Edward Kershaw

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[edit] Biographical Information

Pitcher Clayton Kershaw made his major league debut in 2008 and immediately became a pillar of the starting rotation of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kershaw went 13-0 with a 0.77 ERA as a high school senior, whiffing 139 batters in 64 innings while allowing 23 hits and 26 walks. Baseball America named him as a first-team All-American and as having the best fastball of any high school pitcher entering the draft.

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Scouted by Calvin Jones, Kershaw was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft, the 7th overall selection and the first high schooler picked. He made his pro debut that year with the GCL Dodgers, going 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA and 1 save in 10 games with the team. Baseball America ranked him as the top prospect in the Gulf Coast League, followed by Chris Parmelee and Gorkys Hernandez.

He pitched part of the 2007 Futures Game for the USA. Entering in the 7th, he allowed a homer to Jimmy Van Ostrand and walked Gorkys Hernandez one out later. After he got the second out, he was relieved by Collin Balester, who surrendered a RBI double to Wladimir Balentien to charge Kershaw with a second run.

He was 7-5 with a 2.77 ERA for the Great Lakes Loons, striking out an incredible 134 in 97 1/3 innings while holding left-handed batters to a .151 average. Promoted to the Jacksonville Suns, he had a 1-2, 3.65 record. Overall, his 2.95 ERA led Dodgers farmhands. Baseball America rated him as having the best fastball and being the best pitching prospect in the Midwest League. He had a .201 opponent batting average, lowest in the full-season affiliated minors by .004 over John Lannan. He also had 12.02 K/9 innings, easily the best in the full-season affiliated minors. Baseball America rated him as the best prospect in the Midwest League. He made the MWL All-Star Team as the left-handed pitcher and also was named the MWL Prospect of the Year. Baseball Prospectus named him the #5 prospect in minor league baseball.

Kershaw opened 2008 with Jacksonville and was 0-3 with a 2.28 ERA but with a .205 opponent average and over a strikeout per inning. He was then called up to the majors to replace Esteban Loaiza. He struck out Skip Schumaker, the first batter he faced in the majors, but walked Brian Barton and allowed a RBI double to Albert Pujols. The young southpaw recovered to whiff both Ryan Ludwick and Troy Glaus. He would work six innings and allow two runs, striking out seven in a no-decision in the game.

On June 21, 2011, Kershaw fanned 11 in a 2-hit shutout of the Detroit Tigers. He struck out the side in the 9th inning; no Dodger starter had ended a shutout by doing that since Sandy Koufax in 1965. He was named the National League's Pitcher of the month for July when he went 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 35.1 innings of work. For good measure, he was named to the All-Star team and pitched a scoreless inning against the American League at Chase Field on July 12th. He finished the season very strong, tying Ian Kennedy of the Arizona Diamondbacks in wins with 21 (against 5 losses), and finishing alone in first place in the League for strikeouts with 248 and ERA at 2.28. He thus won the Pitching Triple Crown and was voted the winner of the 2011 National League Cy Young Award.

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Kershaw couldn't quite match his numbers from the previous year in 2012, but was still excellent, returning to the All-Star Game. In mid-September, he was leading the National League with 30 starts, 206 2/3 innings pitched and 206 strikeouts, with an ERA of 2.70 and a record of 12-9, when his missed his scheduled start on September 16th with a hip injury. He was immediately flown to New York, NY to visit a specialist, with the expectation that he would need to undergo season-ending surgery. The news came at a particularly bad time for the Dodgers, as they were only one game back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card spot in the NL, and had already lost two starters for the season in Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. However, Dr. Bryan Kelly advised him that he could continue pitching without risking further injury - if he could handle the pain. He thus took the mound against the Cincinnati Reds on September 23rd, pitching 5 innings while giving up only 1 run in a no-decision; however his solid performance allowed the Dodgers to eventually come out on top, 5-3, and keep their slim hopes of earning a wild card spot alive. He won his last two decisions to finish at 14-9, 2.53. He took a second consecutive ERA crown, and finished second in the NL in strikeouts with 229, pitching 227 2/3 innings in a league-leading 33 starts.

After the 2012 season, Kershaw traveled to the southern African country of Zambia with his wife Ellen and teammate Shawn Tolleson, a childhood friend, and his wife. He opened a small orphanage near the capital city of Lusaka and pledged to support its operations over the coming years. He explained that he hoped it was only the start of what would be a long-term involvement to improve the lives of some orphans in the country that has been wracked by the AIDS epidemic. He had a superhuman performance for the Dodgers on Opening Day on April 1, 2013, throwing a four-hit complete game shutout while homering off George Kontos of the San Francisco Giants to break a scoreless tie in the 8th inning. The Dodgers won 4-0, and Kershaw became the first pitcher to throw a shutout and hit a home run on opening day since Hall of Famer Don Drysdale had achieved the feat for the Dodgers in 1965. He continued to dominate in his second start on April 6th, pitching 7 scoreless innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving up only 2 hits and striking out 9 to lead the Dodgers to a 1-0 victory. On April 17th, he struck out Yonder Alonso of the San Diego Padres in the 2nd inning, for the 1000th K of his career. He was the fastest Dodgers pitcher to reach the milestone, having needed only 970 innings, - 20 fewer than Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. It was the only highlight for him that night, as he gave up three homers and lost, 7-2. That game was a blip on an otherwise very successful first month, which ended with another outstanding start on April 28th against the Milwaukee Brewers. he gave up no runs on four hits in 8 innings, walking none and striking out 12 as he combined with closer Brandon League for a 2-0 shutout. At one point in the game, he retired 18 consecutive batters. That gave him a record of 3-2, 1.73 for the month. On May 20th, he pitched a three-hit complete game win, beating the Milwaukee Brewers, 3-1, to lower his ERA to a NL-leading 1.35 at that point. He was named the NL's Pitcher of the Month for July, when he went 4-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 6 starts. He finished the year at 16-9, 1.83 with 232 strikeouts, leading the league in the latter two categories and was rewarded with his second Cy Young Award.

On January 15, 2014, Kershaw signed a seven-year contract extension with the Dodgers that broke a number of records. With a total value of $215 million, the deal was the largest ever for a pitcher, eclipsing the $180 million offered to Justin Verlander a year earlier, and second only to the $275 million extension consented to Alex Rodriguez in 2008. Averaged at $30.7 million per season, it made Kershaw the recipient of the highest annual salary in baseball history, beating A-Rod on this count, as his deal was over 10 seasons. He was the Dodgers' starter on opening day, played in Sydney, Australia, on March 22nd,and pitched very well, giving up a single run in 6 2/3 innings while striking out 7. He also managed a hit himself, but was thrown out when he attempted to stretch it into a double. He received credit for the Dodgers' 3-1 win. Back in the States, however, he was scratched from his next scheduled start because of an inflamed muscle in his back and then was placed on the disabled list for the first time of his career. After missing five weeks of action, he was back on the mound on May 6th and had seemingly not skipped a beat, as he threw 7 shutout innings against the Washington Nationals in an 8-3 win; he did not walk anyone and struck out 9. On June 18th, he tossed a no-hitter in shutting out the Colorado Rockies, 8-0. The no-hitter came less than a month after his teammate Josh Beckett had pitched the last no-no in the major leagues, on May 26th. He came very close to pitching a perfect game in what was a truly dominating performance: he struck out 15 and walked none, but Corey Dickerson reached on a two-base throwing error by SS Hanley Ramirez to lead off the 7th. He followed up his gem with 8 shutout innings in his next start, on June 24th in a 2-0 win over the Kansas City Royals, although his bid for a second no-hitter was broken in the 1st inning when Eric Hosmer singled with one out. He ended the month by being named the NL's Pitcher of the Month, finishing June with an ERA of 0.82, a 6-0 record and 61 strikeouts. On July 4th, he extended his scoreless innings streak to 36 after allowing only 2 hits in 8 innings in defeating the Rockies, 9-0. The streak eventually reached 41 innings before it ended when the Padres scored a run off him in the 6th inning on July 10th on a homer by Chase Headley. But that start turned out to be another gem, a three-hit complete game that gained him his 8th straight win, 2-1, and improved his record to 11-2. On July 26th, he threw a two-hit shutout at the Giants for a 5-0 win that put the Dodgers in first place a half-game ahead of the Giants. He repeated as Pitcher of the Month in July, after going 4-0, 1.07 in 5 starts during the month. On August 10th, he made it a career-high 11 straight wins when he defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-1; he pitched 8 innings, made a great diving play to start a double play on an attempted squeeze, scored a run and drove in one in a great all-around performance. The winning streak ended in his next start when he lost, 3-2, to the Brewers on August 16th. He won his 18th game on September 8th with a 9-4 win over the Padres, improving to 18-3 and becoming the first 18-game winner in the majors as talk began about whether he was the front-running candidate for the MVP Award in addition to the Cy Young Award.

Kershaw has a very jerky motion that makes it very hard for opposing batters to time their swings. He also barely lifts his right foot from the group when pitching from the stretch, putting him among the hardest pitchers in baseball to run against.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 4-time NL All-Star (2011-2014)
  • 2-time NL Cy Young Award Winner (2011 & 2013)
  • NL Gold Glove Winner (2011)
  • NL Pitcher's Triple Crown (2011)
  • 3-time NL ERA Leader (2011-2013)
  • NL Wins Leader (2011)
  • 2-time NL Strikeouts Leader (2011 & 2013)
  • NL Shutouts Leader (2013)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (2011 & 2013)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (2011)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (2010-2013)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 4 (2010-2013)


NL Cy Young Award
2010 2011 2012
Roy Halladay Clayton Kershaw R.A. Dickey
NL Cy Young Award
2012 2013 2014
R.A. Dickey Clayton Kershaw

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