Ken Rosenthal has a feature up about Bryce Harper that’s worth a read today.
In it, everyone who is quoted and every opinion expressed is about how hard Harper plays. How respectful he is. How he plays the game the right way and, even at age 19, sets an example for others while still making a point to learn from the veterans. I’m struggling to think of a faster turnaround in terms of perception, persona and attitude than the one Harper has undergone since even last season.
What I’d like to know is if this is merely a product of natural maturity — think about how different you were when you were 19 than when you were 17 — of if there is someone or many someone’s in the Nats organization or in Scott Boras’ operation who made it a point to help the young man along in his maturity process. It’s probably both, but to the extent there is a lot of the latter, those people deserve some serious kudos.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.