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Perfect Game Or Not, Kershaw Is Amazing

Kershaw ball no one can hit / Latino Sports

Los Angeles: Today the Minnesota Twins hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 10:10 am game in 38 degree weather. The 9 inning game took 2 hours and 34 minutes to play. The first 7 innings went by in a flash as Dodger lefty Clayton Kershaw pitched with ease. Not allowing any of the 21 batters he faced to reach base and striking out 13 all on just 80 total pitches, 53 for strikes.

So how did he do after seven innings? Well let’s put it this way, he had a great seat in the dugout to see former Yankee Gary Sánchez break up the perfect game with a one-out single in the eighth inning off of Alex Vesia, Kershaw’s replacement. The Dodgers would go on to win 7-0. It could have been the 24th no-hitter in franchise history. More than any other franchise. But Sánchez ended that.

Pulling a pitcher after seven innings of perfect no hit baseball is not new to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau he was the first manager in history to yank a pitcher from a perfect game after seven innings. In September 2016, he replaced Rich Hill after seven perfect innings because of his history with blister problems. But in all fairness to Roberts today, it was all part of the plan they had for the three-time CY Young award winner who will also be a first ballot HOF inductee.

It was Kershaw’s first outing of the season. It was 38 degrees. He had to get up early because of the early start and it is never a good idea to have a pitcher throw more than 80 pitches in their first start in very cold weather. I am sure that if this was mid season on a sunny day he would have continued to pitch the next inning and maybe into the ninth.

According to Dodger beat writer Bill Plunkett Kershaw said it was “the right decision” to pull him after 80 pitches. “Blame it on the lockout. Blame it on my not picking up a ball for three months during the offseason.”

Roberts told reporters on SNLA “He said he’d like to go out there for the 7th, 80-85 pitches was where he wanted to finish. To see him throw a perfect game, I’m all in. But to what cost? Every decision I make is for the best interest the player and their health.”

Over the past 14 years Kershaw has averaged 6.1 innings per game. So aside from the fact that he was throwing a perfect game it is not out of the ordinary for him to be lifted after 7 innings. They had a 3 run lead at the time and would go on to win 7-0. Three of those runs would come in the top of the seventh inning on back-to-back-to-back homers by Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux and Austin Barns. Then one more dinger in the ninth by Max Muncy.

Today’s game is all about pitch counts and how many times a pitcher faces the same batters in a lineup. There was a time when the manager would use his gut feeling about how long to keep his pitcher in the game. Today there is so much information for them to aid in those decisions and they use it big time. We are not privy to that information nor do we know the true makeup of a player and how they will react to a decision to replace them. Not as easy as it seems to make a move like this.

Kershaw has been making between $31 and $35 million per season over the past 7 years and has earned over $257 million in his career. At about $106,000 per inning. This is someone you want to protect.

Kershaw on the possibility of pitching a perfect game said: “At the end of the day, those are individual things, those are selfish goals. We’re trying to win. That’s really all we’re here for. As much as I would have wanted to do it, I’ve thrown 75 pitches in a sim game. I hadn’t gone six innings, let alone seven. Sure, I would have loved to do it, but maybe we get another chance. Who knows?”

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