Like most young hurlers, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw is subject to a pitch count. He’d prefer that he not be:
“This year I don’t think there should be that 100-pitch thing. If there was a
pitch count last year, I think this year there should be no
restrictions, no holds barred, I should pitch as long as I can. That’s
what I’m hoping for. That’s just what I feel.”
Rick Honeycutt said that the Dodgers would not “take the gloves off.” Which, given that Kershaw is 21 years old, is the wise move given recent history. You gotta monitor and limit the workload of young arms.
Still, I agree with Kershaw on one point, and that’s the arbitrary nature of a 100 pitch count in and of itself. The point should be to not let pitchers get fatigued or overworked, as people who study this stuff suspect that throwing on a tired arm — thus messing with mechanics and muscles and labrums and things — is when the real damage is done. Isn’t it entirely possible that the fatigue point can come at pitch 79 on a particular afternoon? And that some days a guy is free and easy at 105 or 110?
Maybe this is way easier said than done, but if I had a young horse like Kershaw I’d devote someone — maybe my bench coach; they don’t seem to do anything — to become an expert in his mechanics, tells for fatigue and that sort of thing rather than simply relying on the automatic 100-pitches-and-you’re-out rule that has come to pervade the thinking on this subject.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.