Clayton Kershaw continued his pitching ascension, throwing 8 scoreless innings, while giving up 7 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3. Kershaw was excellent and now has a record of 10-5, while lowering his ERA to 2.96 which puts him 10th in the NL, while his 138 strikeouts rank 5th. The great thing about Kershaw, though, is that, while he still does rank 4th in walks (56), his 4.0 BB/9 is at a career low, down from 4.8, last year. So good for you… Claw. On a side note, does anyone remember him ever being called “The Claw?” Because when I looked at his Baseball Reference page, it was listed as a nickname. I just don’t remember it. But back to the game…
We also give some MSTI props to Casey Blake’s glove and bat today, the former for saving a run with a great play at third and the latter for getting on base to score the go-ahead run on a clutch double from Russell Martin in the bottom of the 8th, so props to both men.
But, of course, the other big story from today’s game is Kenley Jansen. After striking out two and throwing a scoreless inning in his debut on Saturday, Jansen came in to protect a 1-0 lead, as Broxton, Kuo, and Weaver were unavailable. It was a ballsy move by Torre, to be sure, but a good one, as Jansen delivered and struck out two of the three batters he faced to pick up his first career save. TrueBlueLA points out that Jansen becomes just the 8th Los Angeles Dodger to pick up a save in his first two games, the most recent one being Alejandro Pena in 1981.
As most have likely heard, Jansen, 22, is pretty new to this whole pitching thing, barely converting to pitching around this time last year after catching. However, in his first full year pitching in the minors, Jansen has impressed, putting together a 1.50 ERA in Inland Empire, and a 1.67 ERA in AA Chattanooga. While Jansen did have some control issues in AA (5.7 BB/9), he also boasted an impressive 16.7 K/9 rate.
Of course, while it is premature after only two games to gauge the future of a kid who’s only been pitching a year, Jansen’s climb through the ranks has been incredibly impressive. Even better, he seems to have really good stuff, with a lively fastball that stays in the mid-high 90s, as well as a very good slider and change up.
If he can keep this up, then he provides an incredible boost to the bullpen, as well as finally giving me a Dodger from Curacao that I can like. Imagine Jansen, Kuo, and Broxton to finish out games? Nasty.
Good work, kid. And now, off to SD we go for a big series against the Padres. It will be a battle, to be sure, but after the horrid 6 game stretch to begin the second half of the season, the Dodgers seem to be slowly stabilizing (now 4-6 post All-Star Break), thanks to some fantastic starting pitching. Should be fun… or perhaps a freaking nightmare, but hopefully fun…