Carlos Gonzalez surges ahead in the triple crown hunt


All of the triple crown talk has been about Joey Votto and Albert Pujols — indeed, until just the other day they were the only two dudes in that triple crown tracker on the baseball front — but Carlos Gonzalez’s claim seems stronger than that of either of those guys at the moment.

Gonzalez was already ahead of Votto and Pujols in the batting title race — and recently surged ahead of would-be spoiler Omar Infante — thanks to his recent tear. Indeed, he’s batting .525 during his 15-game hitting streak. Last night CarGo hit a three-run homer as well, which put him ahead of Votto for first place in RBIs. At the moment he’s three homers shy of Pujols.

Pujols’ shot at it seems really, really long given how far down he is in average (he’s hitting “only” .308 compared to Gonzalez’s .340). Gonzalez is currently hotter than Votto and — more importantly — plays in a much more hitter-friendly ballpark.  I don’t think I’d bet the mortgage on Gonzalez hitting three more home runs than Pujols over the season’s final weeks, but if I had to lay odds, I like his chance to win the triple crown better than Votto’s.

And even if he falls short, a late-season surge by both Gonzalez and the Rockies may very well land him the MVP award.

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

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Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.