Clayton Kershaw is making progress, but he isn’t near the top of the list when it comes to National League Cy Young Award favorites, although another month with the kind of pitching he has shown in the shortened 2020 season could change that.
Kershaw (4-1, 1.80 ERA) will have another chance to display his progress when the Los Angeles Dodgers wrap up a three-game series against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
The Dodgers have won nine consecutive home games after they rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. The Dodgers had just one hit before a ninth-inning homer from Mookie Betts tied it, and they scored two runs in the 10th to prevail.
After missing the first 10 days of the season with a back issue that cost him an Opening Day appearance, Kershaw has appeared to turn back the clock at age 32. His fastball has a bit more life to it after years of gradual decline, and his edge is as sharp as ever.
So while pitchers such as the Atlanta Braves’ Max Fried, the Chicago Cubs’ Yu Darvish, the Cincinnati Reds’ Trevor Bauer, the New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Aaron Nola sit atop the list of NL Cy Young favorites, Kershaw has been making his move on the lead pack.
In four of his five starts, the left-hander has given up one run or none. He has two scoreless outings, including one in his last start, against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 27, when he yielded four hits and no walks in six innings with a season-low four strikeouts. In typical Kershaw fashion, he was not satisfied.
“(It) was a little bit of a grind,” Kershaw said. “Just the way the ball was coming out wasn’t as good as it was the last few starts.”
Kershaw’s other scoreless outing came in his season debut on Aug. 2 against the Diamondbacks.
The future Hall of Famer is 17-10 in 34 career starts against Arizona with 234 strikeouts in 211 1/3 innings. The Diamondbacks have tagged him for 22 career home runs, with the Colorado Rockies (27) the only team to hit more against him.
The Diamondbacks will counter with right-hander Luke Weaver (1-5, 8.23 ERA) against the team with the best record in baseball at 28-10. Arizona is 14-23, in last place in the NL West, and has lost 12 of its last 13 games.
Weaver will try to replicate what teammate Zac Gallen did against the Dodgers on Wednesday when Gallen gave up one hit in seven scoreless innings.
The Dodgers’ lineup might be down one power hitter Thursday. Cody Bellinger has missed the past two games with a sore muscle behind his right shoulder.
Weaver is 1-1 with a 9.69 ERA lifetime against the Dodgers in four appearances (two starts). He struggled against Los Angeles in an Aug. 1 start, giving up six runs on seven hits and three walks over four-plus innings.
Weaver surrendered four runs on eight hits in just three innings Saturday during a loss to the Giants. He got ahead in counts but couldn’t put away batters.
“You know the easier part should just be to throw a good quality pitch, but that gets tough sometimes,” Weaver said. “Guys get in protective mode, and it’s hard to throw a good pitch there. Ultimately, it’s just not good enough. When you’re in attack mode like that, you can’t let off the gas.”
–Field Level Media