May and June was fun. It was back when everyone was wondering what was wrong with Clayton Kershaw. Here’s a screencap from a Google search:
Multiply that by about a gabillion, as everyone seemed to want to ask that question. I feel like, with hindsight, we can definitively say that nothing was wrong with Clayton Kershaw. At least nothing that a couple of starts couldn’t fix.
Last night he was damn nigh untouchable, striking out eight, walking none and allowing only three hits in eight shutout innings. And that’s not some anomaly.
Kershaw hasn’t allowed a run in five of his last six starts and has lowered his ERA from 3.08 to 2.39 during that time. In those starts he has 48 innings, has allowed two earned runs, walked three guys and struck out 61. Heck, in his last 12 starts he’s got a 1.09 ERA, has issued 12 walks and has struck out 119. He’s on pace for 296Ks on the season. No one has struck out 300 since Randy Johnson did it in 2002.
I don’t begrudge people who ask the “what’s wrong with [great player]” question when [great player] is not doing so great. It’s something people want to talk about. But I’m starting to feel like maybe, just maybe, the only thing worthy of analysis in those situations is whether or not the guy is hurt. If yes, that’s what’s wrong with him. If no, he’s gonna be just fine, because he’s a great player.
Maybe we’ll guess wrong on the occasional Dale Murphy mystery falloff now and again, but most of the time all that one needs is, well, time.
Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.
While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.
Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.
Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.
For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.