Ah… doesn’t looking at that photo give you chills? The guy on the right passing the torch on to the kid on the left? The Master and The Kid? The Jedi and The Padawan? What could possibly be?
A couple of days late on this, but worth reminiscing on.
Unless you were living in a cave this past weekend, Clayton Kershaw made his MLB debut. Make no question about it, Kershaw’s debut was the most anticipated start EVER for a Dodgers’ prospect. Sure, Fernando came out rocking it in his rookie year, but no one had even heard of him before his start. Nomo probably had a more anticipated debut, yes, but for different reasons. Either way, Sunday was a great day to be at Dodger Stadium… not that I was there, mind you, but I digress…
Kershaw began his Dodger debut by blowing away Skip Schumacher (Skip? Poor guy…). After getting a huge round of applause for that (I’ve never seen that before for a pitcher), and tossing the ball back to the dugout, he proceeds to walk the next hitter. The jitters set in during the first inning, it seemed, and it affected his pitching, as he ended up throwing 32 pitches. Despite that, he still struck out the side.
However, after that shaky first inning, he was anything but that for the rest of the game. In fact, for the next 5 innings, he put up the following stat line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.
I remember watching the debut of Edwin Jackson against Randy Johnson in 2003, and I still have it in my tape archives. However, I was left more impressed with Kershaw. Kershaw’s fastball is absolutely explosive and you really can’t say anything more about his curveball that hasn’t been said already; it’s already amongst the best. As has been said about him, he could work a little more on his change up, but that pitch is not a liability either and he used some of them quite effectively as the game went on.
David Golebiewski of the Transaction Guy puts together an interesting study of the start of Clayton Kershaw using an F/X chart. Here’s some of the criteria:
The chart on the right shows the vertical and horizontal movement (in inches) that Kershaw got on his pitches against the Cardinals, relative to a pitch thrown without spin. The X axis shows the amount of horizontal movement on Clayton’s pitches, while the Y axis shows the amount of vertical movement on the pitches. The chart is from the view of the catcher, so pitches with a negative horizontal (X axis) value are tailing in on a righthanded hitter. Pitches with a low vertical (Y axis) value are moving down in the strike zone; the lower the Y value, the more downward movement the pitch has.
Here’s some of the findings that he found, which is quite interesting.
So, ultimately, what does all this mean? Well, there’s still a long ways to go, but what is definitive is that Kershaw has excellent stuff, already. It will be mighty tough for hitters to deal with a 95 MPH fastball and a curveball like that. What’s also been impressive is how he’s handled everything. He seems to be very composed, level headed, and also seems to have the right attitude to handle all of this, at the moment. He more than lived up to the hype on Sunday and, while I was not the happiest about the call up due to the effectiveness of the Ho and the Kuo in Anaheim, as long as Kershaw keeps pitching like this, he’ll be staying in L.A. and will provide the team with a needed boost. He’s the real deal.
Pity they won’t ever score for him, though.