Clayton Kershaw picked up his 20th win of the season this afternoon, reaching that (once-) magic number for the second time in his career and first time since he went 21-5 in 2011.
He wasn’t sharp against the Cubs, allowing three runs while lasting only five innings, but the Dodgers staked him to a 6-0 lead before he even took the mound and scored a total of 14 runs.
Despite spending all of April on the disabled list Kershaw is MLB’s first 20-game winner this season and his ERA now stands at 1.80. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 218-to-31 in 190.1 innings.
Los Angeles is 22-4 with Kershaw on the mound this season and the Dodgers are now three full games ahead of the Giants in the NL West, pending tonight’s action.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.