Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw captures NL Cy Young Award

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The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced Thursday that Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw has been voted the National League Cy Young Award winner for 2011.

Kershaw, 23, registered a sparkling 2.28 ERA in 33 starts this year, striking out 248 batters and walking only 54 across 233 1/3 innings. He snagged 27 of 32 possible first-place votes to win it handily.

Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay, who had a 2.35 ERA, 220/35 K/BB ratio in 233 2/3 innings this season, finished second with four first-place votes, 21 second-place votes and seven third-place votes.

Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, who posted a 2.40 ERA and 238/42 K/BB ratio in 232 2/3 innings, finished third in the balloting with five second-place votes, 17 third-place and nine fourth-place votes.

Diamondbacks right-hander Ian Kennedy (2.88 ERA, 198/55 K/BB ratio in 222 innings) finished fourth with one first-place vote, three second-place votes, six third-place votes and 18 fourth-place votes. He was the only candidate other than Kershaw and Hallday to get a first-place nod. Let the outrage begin.

MLB.com put together this snazzy Kershaw retrospective, featuring a wonderful amount of Vin Scully.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.