Touch 'Em All: Kershaw makes case for Cy Young award

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Posted: August 23, 2011

Just seven more starts.

That's all hard-throwing lefty Clayton Kershaw thinks he has remaining.

Seven more chances to display his increasing maturity on the mound, seven more opportunities to show that he indeed belongs in the conversation for the NL Cy Young award with some more familiar names.

Right now Kershaw is on a Los Angeles Dodgers team going nowhere.

And there still is competition from the Phillies Three Aces of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels.

But the 23-year-old Kershaw is at an elite level as he leads the NL in strikeouts (199) and is among the leaders in wins (15), ERA (2.60) and innings pitched (183 2-3).

He has nothing but respect for the Phillies aces.

"Unbelievable pitching staff. There's no getting around that," said the man who currently sits on a 15-5 record going into Tuesday's start against the Cardinals.

Kershaw has already set a career high in wins and has tossed four complete games, putting him in the thick of the Cy Young conversation.

However, the ever-affable Kershaw dismisses such speculation with a quick wave.

His focus is on winning games, not awards.

"I just go out there and pitch," said Kershaw, the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft. "I'll let everyone talk if they want to."

His numbers are doing the talking.

Heading into Monday, he was tied with Halladay in wins, had 15 more strikeouts than Lee and a slightly better ERA than Hamels.

All that while playing for a team that's not contending.

"What else can you ask from the guy?" Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He's a strikeout guy. His walks are down. He pitches deep in games. He saves your bullpen. He likes being the guy. He's doing everything you can possibly do.

"To me, it doesn't matter where he's at, who he's facing, he's just dominant."

Kershaw has a blazing fastball and a sharp curve. And he has added a slider and change-up into his arsenal.

And he has been keeping some of the game's best hitters guessing in the batter's box, as they no longer are able to sit on a fastball that typically reaches 94 m.p.h.

"He's one of the best," said Rockies all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who is hitting .229 lifetime against Kershaw. "I'm not sure why he gets overlooked," but Tulowitzki has a theory, though.

Kershaw has no pitching partner to back him up. If he had a Halladay in L.A., Kershaw would be hard to ignore. Plus, he plays on the West Coast. Although, it didn't hamper San Francisco's Tim Lincecum as he won the Cy Young in 2008 and 2009. So only time will tell.

Family first

St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan has taken a leave of absence to tend to his ailing wife, Jeanine Duncan, who underwent major surgery Sunday night and would require additional tests and rehabilitation.

Duncan is the longest-tenured coach in major-league history in his 32d season, all with manager Tony La Russa.

The team said the family asked for privacy, but was optimistic about a recovery.

Oh, no; he didn't

Detroit manager Jim Leyland keeps telling anyone who asks that Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello did not throw at Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera. Umpires warned both teams following Sunday's episode.

Leyland also said his team has no problem with the Indians, who are trying to catch Detroit in the AL Central.


Contact Sandy Spieczny at sspieczny@phillynews.com.

This article contains information from Inquirer wire services.

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