Chris Sale went seven innings, allowed only one hit and two walks, and struck out 15 in Sunday’s 3-1 win against the Cubs. That puts him at 208 strikeouts across 23 starts on the season along with a 3.32 ERA. He’d be in the AL Cy Young conversation if he hadn’t allowed seven runs in back-to-back starts on July 30 and August 4.
Sale is also on pace for 298 strikeouts over 33 starts. A pitcher hasn’t struck out 300 in a season since teammates Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson did so for the Diamondbacks in 2002, with 316 and 334, respectively. Sale struck out 10-plus batters in eight consecutive starts between May 23 and June 30, but did so only once since the beginning of July entering Sunday’s start against the Cubs.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has 205 strikeouts across 23 starts, putting him on pace for 294 over 33 starts. Either pitcher, with a strong finish to the regular season, could accomplish the feat.
A’s right-hander Sonny Gray had to be scratched from his last turn in the starting rotation Thursday afternoon against the Blue Jays because of back spasms. But all is well with the Oakland ace …
MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that Gray, who made it through a 25-pitch bullpen session on Saturday at Camden Yards, has been cleared to start Monday in the Athletics’ series finale versus the Orioles.
Felix Doubront will step back one day and face off against Clayton Kershaw in the A’s series opener against the Dodgers on Tuesday night in Oakland.
Gray, 25, owns an exceptional 2.06 ERA, 0.959 WHIP, and 136/40 K/BB ratio in 161 2/3 innings (23 starts) this season with the A’s.
He is headed toward some serious Cy Young Award consideration.
The current Dodgers team has two amazing starters and then . . . not so amazing starters afterward. Indeed, Clayton Kershaw has a 2.39 ERA and is threatening to strike out 300 guys this year. Zack Greinke has a 1.59 ERA and started the All-Star Game. The rest of the Dodgers starters? Nice guys all, I’m sure, but a bit of a work in progress.
The 1948 Braves are the most famous example of this dynamic, with Hall of Famer Warren Spahan and 24-game winner Johnny Sain leading them to the NL pennant that year. As those two carried the team down the stretch, Gerald Hern of the Boston Post worte a nice little poem about then. It’s often misquoted, so here’s the whole thing.
First we’ll use Spahn
then we’ll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
by two days of rain.
This morning I noted that the old “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” thing could apply to the Dodgers, but that it’s hard to come up with rhymes for “Kershaw” or “Greinke.” Thankfully, you commenters and some folks on Twitter helped me out. None of you are as eloquent as Hern, but I applaud your efforts all the same:
And then we have the Twitter replies:
And finally, my favorite:
My apologies to Brett Anderson, Mat Latos and Alex Wood. None of whom truly deserve this abuse, but all of whom will readily agree, I hope, that Kershaw and Greinke are a tad better than them.
Dodgers infielder Justin Turner is back on the active roster after being sidelined by a staph infection on his right leg, the details of which you can read via quotes from Turner on ESPN Los Angeles if you’re not squeamish.
The short version? “It was scary. It’s not a joking matter.”
Turner picking up where he left off before the disabled list stint is a huge key for the Dodgers down the stretch, because the one-time role player for the Orioles and Mets has emerged as one of the best all-around players in the league.
Since the beginning of last season Turner has hit .332 with 20 homers, 41 doubles, and a .922 OPS in 196 games while seeing time at all four infield spots. He’s played primarily third base this season.
To make room for Turner’s return the Dodgers optioned infielder Jose Peraza back to the minors.
The stuff about Clayton Kershaw earlier — and the reference to Dale Murphy — made me think about baseball players who just inexplicably fall off a cliff. Then, like 20 minutes later, I came across this article at The Hardball Times from Alex Remington about “Baseball Burnouts.” It’s really good.
Now, to be clear, Dale Murphy is not a “burnout.” He shined brightly for a long, long time and was ready to start the wind-down part of his career, after which he’d be a guy who had a Hall of Fame peak and then some nice overall numbers. He just didn’t have the normal wind down. He just . . . stopped.
In contrast, Alex is looking at guys who had a great rookie year and then never did much of anything else. As Alex puts it, the “Joe Charboneaus in baseball history.” He comes up with a handful of them, including Billy Grabarkewitz, Mitchell Page and Rick Ankiel, all of whose careers were . . . weird.
Sometimes these guys were just bad players who had a freak good season out of the gate. Sometimes they’re different cases, like Ankiel. Either way, a fascinating topic.