Clayton Kershaw will pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers looking to avoid their first ever four-game sweep at home against the New York Mets. Meanwhile across town Jered Weaver looks to finish off his stellar first half of the season as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim host the Seattle Mariners.
The Dodgers couldn't be happier to have Kershaw close the series as he is 6-1, 2.09 ERA at home. He enters having thrown a complete game with 10 or more strikeouts in each of his last two starts at Dodger Stadium -- and in three of his last four home starts overall.
He is the first Dodgers pitcher since Hideo Nomo in 1995 to do so in consecutive home starts. If he can make it three straight complete games with double-digit strikeouts, he would be the first Dodger to do so since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.
In fact, since moving to L.A. in 1958 only one other Dodgers pitcher besides Valenzuela has had a streak of three such games at home. That was Sandy Koufax who did so on six separate occasions, including three times in which he stretched the streak to four.
Kershaw has dominated the Mets in his young career. Kershaw is 3-0 with a 1.85 in four career starts against New York. In his only career home start against the Mets, Kershaw pitched eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory (2010).
Like Kershaw, Weaver is looking to put himself in some historical team company. He enters Thursday's start with an American League-best 1.92 ERA going into his final start before the All-Star break.
If he can keep his ERA below 2.00, according to Elias, he would become just the second pitcher in franchise history to compile a sub-2.00 ERA entering the All-Star Game (minimum 10 starts). The only pitcher to do so was Jim McGlothin who had a 1.80 ERA entering the break in 1967.
Weaver has had an extremely streaky season. He went 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA in March and April. According to Elias he was the sixth pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) with six wins by the end of April.
Then in May he went 0-4, 3.38 ERA in six starts. During that stretch his K per 9 IP dropped from 9.7 in March-April to only 6.3 that month.
Even more startling was his miss percentage -- the rate of swing and misses out of total swings -- was cut nearly in half dropping from 29.8 to only 15.5 percent.
Weaver has bounced back in his last six starts going 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA. He has made four straight starts with 7+ IP and 1 ER or fewer. The last Angels pitcher with five straight was Mike Witt in 1986.