Thursday, June 9, 2011
Success vs righties makes Kershaw great
Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on Thursday night, looking to bounce back from a six-run outing Saturday at Cincinnati.
That game aside, Kershaw has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball over the past three years, whether facing left-handed or right-handed hitters.
Left-handers are batting .186 against Kershaw, giving him the the sixth-best opponents' batting average, third among left-handed pitchers. His swing-and-miss percentage of 36.9 leads all pitchers against lefties.
Among left-handed pitchers, Kershaw ranks second in opponents' batting average and first in OPS and strikeout percentage when using breaking pitches.
While his success against lefties might be anticipated, Kershaw separates himself from other southpaws with his ability to get right-handed batters out as well. Since 2009, Kershaw has the ninth-ranked opponents' batting average against among all starting pitchers (.218) when facing right-handed batters. Kershaw and Jonathan Sanchez (who is eighth) are the only two lefties in the top 25.
Since 2009, right-handed hitters are batting .243 in at-bats ending against Kershaw's fastball, well below the league average of .284. His breaking pitches have also been effective against righties, particularly at preventing home runs. Ryan Ludwick and Allen Craig are the only two right-handed batters to take a Kershaw breaking ball deep over that span.
Kershaw takes his breaking ball to Denver on Thursday, looking to continue his improvement at Coors Field. He had a 9.88 ERA in his first three career starts there, but he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his past five starts in Colorado, posting an ERA of 3.38.