Posts Tagged ‘Joe Torre’

Jonathans Are Wild

Friday, August 13th, 2010

The season may have ended yesterday for two storied franchises. The Red Sox and the Dodgers both blew late-in-the-game leads (the Sox to the Blue Jays, the Dodgers to the Phillies) and lost on the road as they attempted to chase down a wild card slot in their respective divisions. The Nation, who are four games back in the Wild Card race, look to be in better shape than the Trolleys — who trail in the N.L West by six-and-a- half. But the similarity between the two teams, and the reason they both may be done, is their fate-crossed closers. Jonathan Broxton of the Dodgers and Jonathan Papelbon of the Sox sport very similar lines, and they’re not pretty.  Both closers have four losses, both have ERAs over 3.0, and both have blown an inordinate number of saves (Papelbon has blown six; Broxton has blown five). And both closers also took the loss yesterday.

The Dodger implosion was the more bloody of the two, with the Torre squad blowing a seven run lead with six outs to go. The only reason I continued to watch the game into the late innings was that I don’t like the Phils –while I’ve got an unexplained affection for the Dodgers. Basically, I wanted to see the Ponies getting drubbed. But, I’d forgotten about the Dodger bullpen (though that’s not hard to do if you don’t have one). Torre looked absolutely gray in the last two innings (especially in the ninth), when Broxton hit the first batter and then walked the second. Torre trudged to the hill to tell his man to “trust [his] stuff.”  Actually, he said it twice (you could read his lips). Broxton promptly walked the next batter, and then it was only a matter of time.

The Sox weren’t much better: they led the Blue Jays 5-2 going into the final frame, but they couldn’t hold it. Starter John Lackey started off the ninth and gave up a solo dinger; he was pulled. That said, Lackey had pitched effectively, scattering seven hits over eight innings with only one walk. Then Papelbon came on: and the wheels fell off. In one-third of an inning Papelbon gave up four hits and walked one. Fireballer Daniel Bard then entered the fray, but it was too late. While Bard got his man to fly out to center by then the game had been tied and the winning run had tagged from third to score.

The Dodgers are certainly done. Broxton looks absolutely lost on the mound. It’s not clear how, in the wake of the Broxton disaster, the Trolleys can rebound from “the Philadelphia Massacre.” And the Sox? Well, we’ll see . . . but it doesn’t look good. And it’s because of their closer. Effective closers don’t blow six save opportunities and keep their team in contention. It’ll be a mammoth test of the Sox stick-to-it-iveness to continue the march to the Wild Card.  They’ve certainly showed their mettle thus far, particularly given the almost unbelievable number of key players they’ve had on the DL this season. But with Kevin Youkilis gone for the year with a thumb injury its just not certain they can come back from their collapse in Toronto.

Dunn, Atilano Clip Dodgers

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Backed by two homers from Adam Dunn, right handed rookie starter Luis Atilano subdued the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, 5-1. It was Atilano’s first start. The rookie threw an effective mix of fastballs, curves and change-ups in notching his first major league victory — earning the praise of both Dodger skipper Joe Torre and Nats’ manager Jim Riggleman. “The youngster really did a good job of throwing strikes and changing speeds,” Torre said. “We had some scouting reports on him and some video, but the fact that he had so many strikes early in the count enabled him to do what he did, which was very impressive. He did a great job.”

While Dunn passed off reporters who questioned whether his 2-3 showing ended his slump, the slugger seemed more comfortable at the plate than he has since the beginning of the season: “It’s just a first game. But it felt good,” Dunn said. “Again, I’ve been feeling good all along. I just haven’t been doing much. Two thoughts went through my head. On the first home run, I went up there, I was going to basically jam myself and stay inside of [the ball]. The other one was to revert back to slow-pitch softball, minus the beer coolers in the dugout.” Dunn’s game vaulted his BA above .200 for the year and eased fears that his slump might be more permanent. His first home run of the night (in the fourth inning) was prodigious — it landed in the upper deck in right field.

Are The Nationals “For Real?” It’s a good question — at least for baseball commentators and “power ranking” gurus. From “Baseball Tonight” to the MLB Network, the Nats are getting a lot of ink. The Nats 9-8 record is nothing to brag about, unless you’re a team with 103 losses in 2009. But the baseball press is taking the Nats seriously, in spite of injuries to Jason Marquis, Ryan Zimmerman’s nasty and nagging hamstring and Adam Dunn’s power outage. Tim Kurkjian (not surprisingly) predicted the Nats’ break out, calling the Nats the “most transformed team in the National League” at the beginning of the season. Baseball’s “power rankings” reflect this new reality: the Nats are listed at 24 (ahead of the White Sox and Mets) by ESPN, but 18th by Fox Sports (ahead of the Red Sox!).

There are some simple truths here: the Nats are better than last year, are better than the Astos, Diamondbacks, Orioles and Royals and deserve credit for their strong and early start. But it’s hard to believe that a staff of Lannan, Stammen, Olsen and Hernandez can out-pitch a staff anchored by the likes of Lester and Beckett. Nats fans know that “power rankings” go out the window once Rizzo and Company have to rely on rookie pitchers to provide stop-gap wins. But the glass is half full: if Chien-Ming Wang can return healthy when he’s supposed to, if Jason Marquis can come back quickly and if Stephan Strasburg is all everyone says he is (and he is), then come June all bets are off. For the first time in five years, the team is tough defensively and has a strong bullpen. It might be hard for some to swallow (like Mets fans for instance, or that team up the road) , but Nats fans don’t need the power rankings to tell you — this team is for real.

Is “The Fix” Really In?

Friday, December 18th, 2009

In yesterday’s Washington Post, Tom Boswell reported that Bud Selig has put together a group of the game’s best and brightest to, in Boswell’s words, “fix” the game.  Boswell seems to think the game is broken: I don’t.  He seems to think surgery is required; I think the patient just needs a trip to the chiropractor for an adjustment. But Boswell’s was a good piece and very well received by this baseball fan who hit his “Skins fatigue threshold” two months ago — and has ceased to be fascinated by Tiger’s woes.  It was a good not-yet-winter article to take my mind off the cold.

Despite my belief that the game isn’t as bad off as some believe, I love the managers who comprise the on-field contingent of the 14-man committee: La Russa, Leyland, Torre and Scioscia. Future Hall of Famers every one. The Wise Men of Baseball.  Who doesn’t like those guys? 

La Russa is a vegetarian lawyer — who just so happens to have also won a World Series and Manager of the Year award in both leagues. But he should also be admired for how he responded to his 2007 DUI arrest. He said he was embarrassed, then pleaded guilty and said “I accept full responsibility for my conduct, and assure everyone that I have learned a very valuable lesson and that this will never occur again.” In other words, unlike so many sport folk these days, he didn’t hire a crisis management team to carefully craft a statement. He manned-up and did the right thing. Leyland (on the other hand) is the crusty old baseball guy who takes crap from no one, smokes Marlboros in the clubhouse ramp between innings and does more with his teams than one would expect.  Did the Florida Marlins really win the ’97 Series?  Really?!  And, you gotta love a guy who gets thrown out before the first pitch.

Torre is Torre. It’s hard to say much that would add anything to his record in New York. He’s a class act who wins.  And his dugout persona makes La Russa look excitable.  Buddha in a ball cap. Scioscia (like Leyland) is a fiery type who knows the game. He won a World Series in his third year with the Angels and has won the division in five of the last six years. If he were an every day player he’d be considered “a gamer.”

But, to the point of Boswell’s article: he recommends that the committee take a look at the pace of the game, at the issue of awarding the World Series home field advantage to the winner of the All Star game, is opposed to playing the World Series in November and thinks the way to do this is to cut back on the 162 game season.

I’m in full agreement with no November baseball. It should never happen; end of story. Cutting back on 162 games?  No. Sorry. One of the great things about baseball are the stats and being able to make comparisons between the greatest players of all time. We had to get over the switch from 154 games, no reason to go through that again. Plus, its a non-starter from a revenue point of view. Ain’t gonna happen. Then too, I actually like the All Star game counting for something. Boswell seems to think these things go in streaks and one league dominates the All Star game for years at a time giving an unfair advantage for years in a row to one league at Series time.  Maybe, but my reaction would be for the “weaker” league to get better.  But I’d also be happy with awarding home field to the team with the most regular season wins as Boswell suggests.

And the pace of the game? It can be speeded up, but it was my perception that it had gotten much better in the last couple of years — especially in the American League. One of my idiosyncrasies is to look at game times at the bottom of the box score. I don’t know why but I just do. And I thought that the problem had been fixed. But let’s go with Boswell’s contention that the game still has much to do in this area and address his five ideas for speeding it up:

1) Ban mound visits: I assume Boswell is joking so I’ll just say that if Jim Leyland thinks it’s okay to use a Blackberry to calm a kid pitcher down with runners on second and third (with one out in a one-run game in the seventh) then it’s okay with me.

2) Limit the time to make a pitching change. Yup. Shouldn’t a reliever be be loose by the time he gets to the mound? 

3) End the singing of “God Bless America” during the Stretch. Yes again. Enough already.

4) Wave the hitter to first when an intentional walk is indicated. Nope. You never know when that kid pitcher will hit the backstop.

5) Requiring relief pitchers to face at least two batters to eliminate pitching changes. I go back and forth on this one; so I’ll waffle and say “perhaps.”

Agree with Boswell or not, it was a great exercise to think this through in mid December. The only thing better was to realize that pitchers and catchers report in 60 days.

Rockies Even Series; Trolleys Stun Redbirds

Friday, October 9th, 2009

The Colorado Rockies held off the rallying Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday to take the second game in their five game series, 5-4. The key for the Purples was an unlikely two run homer off the bat of catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who hadn’t had a four base knock since May. Torrealba’s knock was complemented by solid pitching from Rockies’ starter Aaron Cook and bullpen aces Jose Contreras, Matt Belisle, Rafael Betancourt, Franklin Morales and all-world closer Huston Street (above). The Heltons, who won during the regular season by counting on the bats of an unlikely mix of new heroes, depended on the bat of yet another unknown newcomer: in this case it was left fielder Carlos “Cargo” Gonzalez. Gonzalez — a former Showboat prospect and a throw-in in the off season Oakland-Colorado Matt Holliday-for-Huston Street trade — spent much of the last two seasons in triple-A, while Denver’s front office waited for him to pan out. Gonzalez got his chance this year, after a series of injuries made room for him in the Colorado outfield. On Thursday, the fleet Venezuelan went 3-5 to spark the otherwise sleepy Rockies’ line up.

When the Oakland A’s got Matt Holliday from the Colorado Rockies in the Huston Street trade back in November of 2008, they thought their search for a big bat was over: the Stillwater, Oklahoma native was a three time all star and three time silver slugger and he’d been named the 2007 World Series MVP. But Holliday didn’t seem to fit in in Oakland (he hit an otherwise anemic .286 with 11 home runs in 93 games), and on July 24, 2009 Oakland A’s guru Billy Beane swapped him to St. Louis for three top prospects: Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson. In St. Louis, Holliday tore the cover off the ball — hitting .353 with 13 home runs in just 63 games, and propelling the Redbirds into the post season. He was just what Tony La Russa ordered.

Holliday’s post season experience gave St. Louis the confidence they needed against L.A. With Albert Pujols and Holliday in the middle of their order and Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright their big guns as starters, St. Louis was set to head into L.A. to face Joe Torre’s big bats. L.A. took the first game, with a surprisingly shaky outing by Carpenter. But St. Louis came back to dominate the second game: and it looked like the Redbirds were set to even the series at one game apiece. But with two outs in the ninth ining and St. Louis leading, the otherwise sure-handed Holliday dropped a sinking liner off the bat of first sacker James Loney to give the Dodgers new life. Casey Blake then walked and former Nats Ronnie Belliard singled home the tying run, before Mark Loretta’s short centerfield single provided the 3-2 walk off win. “It’s tough to swallow,” Holliday said after the game. “Obviously, I feel terrible. But I just missed the ball. It hit my stomach. I think I can catch a ball hit right at me.” The Trolleys now lead the series, 2-0.

Colletti’s Team

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

There was a time — and not so long ago — that the Los Angeles Dodgers were the best team in the National League, and perhaps the best in baseball. That wasn’t true from the end of July through the first part of September, when the team seemed to struggle to win games and the Redbirds surged. That’s not to say that the Trolleys didn’t win, they did: but hardly at the same rate as in the first four months of the season, when their young pitching staff was the talk of baseball. There were low points, head scratching series that saw the listless Dodgers incapable of mounting their usual barrage of hits, or keeping their starters in games much past the sixth inning: the Trolleys lost three of four to the Redbirds at the end of July, then two of three to the Brewers, then three of four to the Braves. The losses to the Braves were particularly hard to take: they were all at home — and they weren’t even close. It was puzzling. Suddenly, the Trolleys — though sailing along in first place — looked vulnerable. 

Oddly (or perhaps predictably), the struggles of the L.A. Nine seemed to coincide with the return of Manny Ramirez, whose fifty game suspension actually energized the Chavez sluggers, giving new life to replacement Juan Pierre and Joe Torre’s raft of young boppers — particularly Andre Ethier (.283, 31 HRs) and first baseman James Loney (.283, 13 HRs).  Baseball’s community of pundits oohed and ahhed over Manny’s return (noting, and it seemed endlessly), that he remained “the best righthanded hitter in baseball,” but they couldn’t help wondering how the return of Pierre to the L.A. bench would effect Joe Torre’s mix. Good point: for instead of further energizing an already great squad, Manny’s appearance in Dodger Blue seemed to dampen L.A.’s race to the N.L. West title: the streaky Colorado Helton’s gained ground on L.A. and even the light hitting San Francisco McCoveys seemed resurgent.

But over the last two weeks all of that has changed. While the Rockies remain within spitting distance of first place, the Trolleys have reasserted their control over the division — most recently humbling McCovey ace Tim Lincecum. “This club is playing with a purpose right now,” said manager Joe Torre. “They understand what’s out there and what’s at stake and they can’t expect anyone else to do it for them.” A lot of Dodgers point to the resurgence in the team’s pitching as the reason for the Trolleys’ new lease on the N.L. West — former Phuzzie Randy Wolf (11-6) has been a surprise among the starters (he outdueled Lincecum, and made it look effortless), and always-just-average Hiroki Kuroda has been much more than just average — winning his last two outings to give the Dodgers’ staff a needed lift. But the hero of the Dodgers’ latest resurgence (which comes just in time for the playoffs) isn’t anyone on the field. It’s L.A. General Manager Ned Colletti, who put together a series of trade deadline deals that, in retrospect, look nothing nothing less than brilliant.

Vicente Padilla #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second inning at Dodger Stadium on September 1, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.

Colletti might as well be working with hammers and saws, particularly considering the renovation job he’s done on the L.A. staff. The trade deadline acquisition of Jon Garland has provided a steadying groundball presence for L.A.’s younger pitchers, while beanball retread Vicente Padilla has provided a much-needed up-and-in intimidator for a group of knee shaking younger guys who love the outside half of the strike zone. Perhaps Colletti’s best decision, however, was the acquisition of former Birdland closer George Sherrill (1.70 ERA) who has become a par excellance set-up man and sometime closer who provides a lights out presence for the L.A. 8th. And that’s not all: the haunting of Washington (Juan Rivera, et. al.) continues with a resurgent Ronnie Belliard, who is hitting the skin off the ball in L.A. Then too, Jim Thome seems more than comfortable in his new role as a lefthanded bat off the bench. Who would have thunk it. Here we are in September, and Joe Torre’s first place team is being led by a bunch of gamers with enough mileage on their cleats to populate a retirement home. When we should be talking about Manny, we’re talking about Jon and Vicente and Ronnie — a passle of veterans who owe their playoff dreams to a G.M. who knows a bargain when he sees one. The L.A. Dodger’s might be Joe Torre’s team, but they’re also Ned Colletti’s.

Nats Can’t Solve Phils … and Joe Torre’s Night

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

The Washington Nationals just can’t seem to solve the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phuzzies’ 6-5 victory was a near thing for the Nats, who threatened all the way to the end — but could never get the timely hits they needed to win. Nor could the Nats rely on the normally dependable Tyler Clippard, who gave up back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning after the Nats had tied the game at four. “Clippard wasn’t locating his fastball,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “He has taken the ball and has done a good job, but the last couple of nights, he hasn’t been able to locate the fastball and has paid for it.”

Big innings made the difference: starter Garrett Mock suffered through an insufferable second frame, giving up a double, single, single, walk and single before pitching two ground-outs and a fly ball. The Phillies scored three: but the Nats were lucky it wasn’t more. Once again, the playoff bound Phillies relied on the long ball, with home runs by Jason Werth and Pedro Feliz. Phillies’ pitcher Cliff Lee wandered through an unsteady performance, yet somehow survived seven innings of 10 hit baseball to take the win. The big news of the night (for Phillies fans) was the dog that didn’t bark: Brad Lidge remained seated in the Phillies bullpen as Ryan Madson closed the door on the Nats in the 9th: a sign, perhaps, of things to come for the A.L. East leaders.

Phillies Nationals Baseball

Down On Half Street: Call it the reverse curse. Twenty-four hours after he was scoured by television commentators Rob Dibble and Bob Carpenter, Alberto Gonzalez lit up Nationals Park with a three-for-three outing — all of them doubles. Gonzalez amazing rehabilitation wasn’t enough to boost the sinking Nats past the Phuzzies on Wednesday, but it raised his average to .259 — two points better than Trolley third baseman (yes, you heard me right) Ronnie Belliard, described by the MASN on-air crew as a “very good hitter” (this is my soapbox, and I’ll be damned if I’ll get down from it) . . . Gonzalez’s doubles weren’t cheap: a second inning rope down the first base line, a fifth inning shot off the centerfield wall and a seventh inning scorcher to left-center . . .

It’s never too late to watch baseball. If you live in the near-suburbs of either Maryland or Virginia a quick car ride home from Nationals Park puts you in front of the television in about the fourth inning of the west coast games. Last night’s featured match-up was the ESPN Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks tussle in Phoenix. A Trolleys-Showboats match-up is always entertaining. But last night was especially so: outside of the pure enjoyment of watching righty wizard Dan Haren pitch, the game included some interesting in-dugout politics. Haren pitched his usual clever hit-the-strikezone-with-every-pitch game (it really is something to see) before the 7th, but in the seventh he put two men on with one gone. Sure enough out trotted Showboat manager A.J. Hinch. Haren gave him a glance coming out of the dugout and then looked away. It looked like he was going to vomit. Later, when Haren was sitting on the bench, Hinch went over to explain, but Haren just shook his head: he wouldn’t even look at him. Surprise, surprise: Hinch made the right call. Reliever Juan Gutierrez pitched the Dbacks out of the jam and Hinch looked like a genius. Proof positive of that old adage: even a blind dog finds a bone sometimes.

Joe Torre pulled out all of the stops in trying to win the game, including getting through a jam in the 9th. George Sherrill had pitched an effective eighth, but was relieved by Ramon Troncoso. Troncoso opened the ninth, and immediately threw an infield chopper hit by Gerardo Parra past the right ear of Dodger first baseman James Loney. Parra ended up on second. Torre was not amused. The next hitter, Ryan Roberts, sacrificed pinch runner Trent Oeltjen to third. So man on third, one out, with Showboat hitter and Dodger-slayer Stephen Drew coming to the plate. Torre, leaning on the dugout fence, smiled to himself and turned to pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who was studying the stats book: “Put him on?” Torre asked. Honeycutt didn’t really answer, he just nodded. “You sure?” Honeycutt nodded again.

So, man on first and third, one out, with no-joke Justin Upton walking to the batter’s box. “Again?” Torre asked. This time he wasn’t smiling. And Honeycutt, still eyeing the stats book, nodded again. And so Torre held up four fingers. But this time Troncoso looked in at Torre, his jaw slack, so out Joe trotted to give his pitcher some calcium. We might guess at what he had to say: “Now listen, kid, we’re setting up the double play here and giving you someone to pitch to. Reynolds follows Upton and he’s got more strikeouts than a middle aged man at a high school prom. So put this guy on and then throw strikes.” Troncoso didn’t like it, but what was he going to say? He shuffled a bit, threw four balls to Upton and turned to face Mark Reynolds. It was a near thing. Torre watched every pitch while Honeycutt continued staring at his stats book — and Troncoso walked in the winning run.

Dodgers Diamondbacks Baseball

Are “Dem Bums” For Real?

Saturday, August 8th, 2009


This is the second in a series of guest commentaries by “MH” — our regular guest columnist and erstwhile fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers . . .

Questions continue to surround the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, but one question in particular seems to haunt “dem bums”: are they really the best team in baseball, or a fluke that’s just waiting to collapse? The Dodgers’ stellar record would certainly seem to suggest they’re the best (if not in all of baseball, then certainly in the NL), but naysayers persist, claiming that the Dodgers are simply fortunate to be in the NL West – an “easy division.” Their suspicions seemed vindicated at the end of July, when the league-leading Dodgers headed east to face central division powerhouse St. Louis – where they won only one game of a four game set. The Trolleys were outscored in the series 22-8 (which included a 10-0 blowout), and their pitching looked simply mortal. The Dodgers were a paper tiger. At least that is what Dodgers skeptics would have you believe.

More than any other factor in the St. Louis series, defense was crucial. Both teams brought tightly wound starters, bullpens and formidable fielders. The Dodgers activated Hong-Chih Kuo from the DL, and he proved his worth on the Dodgers roster — which had recently suffered from the loss of both Corry Wade and Ronald Belisario. The L.A. bullpen seems to have weathered the worst that baseball (and injuries) can offer — and is now set for the final run to the flag. Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and the Manny Ramirez-Juan Pierre duo combined to form a formidable defensive perimeter in all but the second game in the four-game series. The Cards saw the Dodgers defense and raised it an impressive batting staff – to the extent that game three of the four-game tilt was a fifteen-inning leviathan. There wasn’t much a hurting Dodgers bullpen could do to combat the Cards’ assault.

Crucial to the success of the Dodgers has been its pitching staff, and with the introduction of George Sherrill (a trading deadline addition from the Orioles), and the activation of Kuo, the pitching is likely to get a lot sharper. The emergence of Clayton Kershaw (who is what everyone wants — an overpowering lefty) has been crucial. And for those critics that saw in the Cards’ series an indication of the Dodgers’ raw skill — or lack of it — there is the Dodgers’ uncanny ability to add fresh blood from a pitching heavy farm system. Then too, while the L.A. nine seemed outclassed by the Redbirds in St. Louis, they have gone 4-4 since (which includes a rough road swing), lead the NL West by nearly seven games and remain the most dangerous team in the west. Are the Dodgers the best team in baseball? Maybe not, but they will bring the heat and the bats against any team they face in the regular and post-season. The emergence of superstar-to-be, Andre Ethier, the addition of Sherrill, the continued outstanding infield defensive play and the genius of Dodger manager Joe Torre will make sure of that.


now is the time

Report From LA

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

[We often receive guest commentaries from fans outside of Washington. This week “MH” provides Centerfield Gate readers with his view on the Dodgers, from L.A.]

The Pierre Paradox: On July 3 the Dodgers passed another milestone in their effort to capture the World Series. Manny Ramirez returned. That means that despite his efforts on the field, which may have been pivotal in the Dodgers current leading position atop the NL West, Juan Pierre is back on the bench. Never mind the fact that Pierre out-hustles and outshines Manny in the outfield, Manny produces homers, which no other Dodger is able to do. This is perplexing for the Dodgers, as Joe Torre has made the point time and again that his preference is for a team that can consistently get on base, a formula that Juan Pierre helped the Dodgers to fit into nicely.


What we’re seeing then is the on-base vs. power debate being played out in the Dodgers franchise. At the end of the day home runs put fans in the bleachers, a fact that Dodgers management cannot overlook. But the Dodgers’ front office should not lose sight of the fact that the other big way to get fans in bleachers is to take the pennant and the World Series. Juan Pierre was on his way to helping them do that. Let’s hope that the re-adopted Manny does not reinforce ‘the bums’ stereotype, and that the Dodgers get their money’s worth for an unfortunate choice.

The Kershaw Complex: Clayton Kershaw must remind Torre of the young Sandy Koufax; he has an amazing 1-7 curveball and mid-90s fastball. It should be no surprise that he was able to strike out thirteen Giants in nine innings, or that just yesterday he was able to blank the Mets in New York. Kershaw is only 21, and his youth may be his greatest drawback. Kershaw has suffered from several bouts of inconsistency, which resulted in several commentators calling on him to be sent down to Albuquerque Triple A.  Admittedly, there have been bumps in Kershaw’s journey as a pitcher, but the only way for him to overcome the stresses that have led to his inconsistencies is for him to stay in the bigs, facing all the pressures that the mound brings. He showed his ability to do this against the Angels in the final game of the Freeway Series with seven no-hit innings. That’s no small feat.

There is greatness in Kershaw’s future, but it can only emerge through the strenuous smelting that the best batters of the MLB provide. To remove him from the big leagues would be a great injustice against not just the Dodgers franchise, but against baseball itself. He may never eclipse or surpass Koufax as a pitcher, but he might be able to show Major League Baseball how pitching can and should be done.