The Best Start of Clayton Kershaw’s Career…

…was also the 4th-most-valuable game any starting pitcher has had this year, based on WPA (Win Percentage Added):

Rk Player Date Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO Pit WPA RE24 aLI
1 Edwin Jackson 2010-06-25 TBR W 1-0 9.0 0 0 0 8 6 149 0.880 4.934 1.758
2 Roy Halladay 2010-05-29 FLA W 1-0 9.0 0 0 0 0 11 115 0.842 4.570 1.226
3 Mat Latos 2010-05-13 SFG W 1-0 9.0 1 0 0 0 6 106 0.841 4.661 1.348
4 Clayton Kershaw 2010-09-14 SFG W 1-0 9.0 4 0 0 0 4 111 0.832 4.661 1.338
5 Jake Peavy 2010-06-19 WSN W 1-0 9.0 3 0 0 2 7 107 0.825 4.440 1.809
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/15/2010.

In case you’re wondering why Kershaw ranks above “better” games like Dallas Braden‘s perfecto, it’s because WPA takes into account the game situation, so Kershaw’s performance with a razor-thin 1-0 lead was worth more than Braden holding down a 4-0 lead.

Last night’s outing tops his previous WPA score of 0.628, which he got by tossing 8 shutout innings against the Cardinals in July of 2009. Since allowing six runs in six innings against Washington on August 6, Kershaw’s torn off seven solid games in which he’s allowed 10 ER in 48.2 IP, striking out 48 against just 15 BB. The Dodger record in those games? Just 3-4, thanks to lousy offense, though last night’s one hit was certainly the worst.

And people say the Dodgers “don’t have an ace”…

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Just when you thought you couldn’t hate the James McDonald (and Andrew Lambo) for Octavio Dotel deal any more, McDonald tosses out yet another quality start for the Pirates, this time going eight shutout innings in New York. Needless to say, the internet is all over it…

Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts:

The fact remains, the Dodgers parted with their two-time minor league pitcher of the year and an effective member of their 2009 bullpen, earning a minimum salary, in order to acquire Octavio Dotel. They nurtured McDonald through eight years in the organization, and then gave up too soon.

Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

It appears to be an outstanding trade by Neal Huntington, even at this early stage, given that it will not take any time to know what the Dodgers have in Octavio Dotel at this stage of his career. James McDonald has been very good, and Andrew Lambo has shown promise while playing around that nagging shoulder injury.

Jack Moore at Fangraphs:

McDonald’s peripheral numbers are actually quite similar to those of hard throwing left handed pitcher David Price of the Rays. Both have K/9 rates around 8.0 and walk rates around 3.5. McDonald has allowed fewer HRs this year in his small sample, but that’s unlikely to continue, as Price has a ground ball percentage in the mid-40s. McDonald’s fastball averages 92.5 MPH to Price’s 94.5, and Price’s arsenal contains a slider whereas McDonald relies on the curveball and changeup as his offspeed pitches. Both draw similar amounts of swinging strikes, with Price at 9.0% on his career and McDonald at 8.8%

Eight starts is nowhere near enough to say that McDonald can be an ace or that he’s the next David Price. Still, he’s shown tremendous potential and has a minor league track record to back it up. The Pirates haven’t seen much in the way of starting pitching talent in a long time. It’s looking like James McDonald will be the first step for the Pirates in their quest to put together a playoff-quality starting rotation.

Meanwhile, Dotel has walked 5.6/9 as a Dodger before shuffling off into free agency, and right now, the #4 and #5 starters in the 2011 Dodger rotation appear to be Charlie Haeger and Orel Hershisher. Great trade.

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Man, I never get tired of hearing that players have hidden injuries, only to see said injury get worse. And by “never get tired”, I of course mean, “hiding an injury just never ends well”. In this case, it’s Travis Schlichting

“I was just trying to fight through it, because my mechanics were bad at the beginning of the year, and I think that’s when it started. I was just forcing it, and it kind of never went away. It wasn’t affecting me in games, so I didn’t want to make a big deal of it.”

Conte was unsurprised to hear the pitcher had a problem that he hadn’t talked about.

“That’s sort of part of the game,” he said. “Our job, of course, is not to let it get that far, so we always appreciate it when a player tells us when he has something going on. But we understand when players don’t.”

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  1. [...] September 15: The best start of Clayton Kershaw‘s career was also the 4th-most-valuable game any starting pitcher has had this year, based on WPA (Win Percentage Added): [...]

  2. [...] McDonald excelled and Dotel imploded, it only twisted the knife further: Just when you thought you couldn’t hate the James McDonald (and Andrew Lambo) for Octavio Dotel [...]

  3. [...] Schlichting allowed 9 ER while walking more than he struck out. I bet you’ll never figure out how that happened! Man, I never get tired of hearing that players have hidden injuries, only to see said injury get [...]