Clayton Kershaw blanked the Rockies for six innings Friday to improve to 16-9 on the season and lower his MLB-best ERA to 1.83.
Kershaw is the first to qualify for the ERA title with an ERA under 2.00 since Roger Clemens came in at 1.87 for the Astros in 2005. His mark is the lowest since Pedro Martinez put up a 1.74 for Boston in 2000.
It will be Kershaw’s third straight NL ERA and WHIP titles. He’s also set to lead the league in strikeouts for a second time with 232 in 236 innings. His second Cy Young is pretty much assured, as well.
There’s also a good case for Kershaw being at the heart of the MVP mix, particularly given that there aren’t any dominant hitters in the National League this year. Alas, his modest win total is sure to doom him there. Not only has Kershaw been limited to 16 wins, but the Dodgers are a mere 19-14 in his 33 starts. That’s a .576 winning percentage that’s practically identical to their .575 mark when he doesn’t pitch.
Of course, it’s not Kershaw’s fault that he’s received such terrible run support; the Dodgers have scored a total of 23 runs in those 14 starts of his they didn’t win. But it’s quite a dent in a claim that he’s the NL’s MVP when his team has been just as good when he doesn’t pitch.
It’s really a moot subject anyway. While the statistically inclined will advance cases for starting pitchers in the MVP balloting, the fact is that no NL starter has finished in the top five since Greg Maddux came in third in 1995.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this:
Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.
It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.
Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.