AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
Clayton Kershaw has many different ways to get hitters out.
The Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers meet with the Reds trying for a series sweep on "Sunday Night Baseball" at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN). Here’s a look at five statistical storylines our broadcast crew will surely be talking about.
1. Despite a three-game losing streak, the Dodgers are 36-11 since the All-Star break. If they can maintain that pace, it would be the fourth-best second-half winning percentage by a team since the All-Star Game began in 1933. After a 30-42 start, the Dodgers are 53-16 in their past 69 games. Their starting pitchers entered Sunday with a 3.09 ERA, best in the majors. The Reds rank second with a 3.37 ERA.
2. Clayton Kershaw enters Sunday night with a 1.89 ERA, which would be the lowest by an NL lefty since Sandy Koufax’s 1.73 in 1966.
Lowest Single-Season ERA
Los Angeles Dodgers History
Kershaw could be only the fifth pitcher to lead his league in ERA in three straight seasons (the first since Greg Maddux from 1993 to 1995) and only the third to lead the majors in three straight seasons (joining Maddux and Hall of Famer Lefty Grove, 1929 to 1931).
Kershaw is the only pitcher in the majors with at least 60 strikeouts on three different pitch types (69 slider, 68 curveball, 63 fastball).
Kershaw is coming off his worst start of the season. In his first start of September, he allowed more earned runs (five) than he did in five starts in August combined (four).
3. Reds starter Homer Bailey is 5-0 with a 2.42 ERA in his past seven starts. Bailey enters this start with back-to-back outings of seven innings pitched and no earned runs allowed. The last Reds pitcher with three straight such outings was Jim Maloney in 1968.
4. The Kershaw-Joey Votto matchup should be a good one. Lefties are hitting an NL-low .159 against Kershaw this season. Votto is 5-for-20 against Kershaw with 11 strikeouts, his most against any pitcher. He’s also one of four left-handed hitters to hit a pair of homers against Kershsaw. (The others are Adam Dunn, Carlos Gonzalez and Brad Hawpe.)
5. Each team has a rookie doing something notable from a historical perspective. Yasiel Puig is currently hitting .347. Over the past 80 years, the only players 22 or younger to finish a season with a batting average higher than that (minimum 300 plate appearances) are Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez and Stan Musial.
Meanwhile, the Reds now have a unique offensive weapon in Billy Hamilton, who stole 75 bases in the minor leagues this season. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Hamilton, who has not yet come to the plate in a major league game, is the first player in the modern era (since 1900) to record a stolen base in each of his first four major league games.