Saturday, July 16, 2011

Clayton Kershaw doesn't give up a lot of unearned runs

If you had looked at the score of last night's game, you might have thought Clayton Kershaw didn't pitch that well.

Did he give up all four runs? How many innings did he pitch?

Despite the four runs allowed, Kershaw pitched brilliantly again. And the best part is, the four runs were all unearned.

Chris Young reached base on a one-out fielding error by the great Juan Uribe. After striking out Stephen Drew for the inning's second out, Kershaw got in a spot of bother by walking Ryan Roberts and giving up a single to Miguel Montero. He then hung a 1-2 slider to Xavier Nady that he promptly hit over the center field wall.

What happened last night was a rarity for Kershaw. It was the eighth time in his career he's allowed unearned runs to score, and the four unearned were easily the most he's ever allowed in a game.

Coming into the contest, through 104 career games (102 starts), Kershaw had allowed just 10 unearned runs in his career.

Jesse Radin of BaseballPress.com wrote in February that the average starter's percentage of unearned runs is 8 percent. Kershaw's is 6.1 percent. This one is a little dated (2004), but Dan Agonistes looked at all starting pitchers since 1960 and found the unearned run percentage was 10.2 percent. So when Kershaw gives up unearned runs, it's news.

Kershaw's 2.88 ERA is the lowest it's been since May 29 (2.62). And since (somewhat) calling him (and other starters) out for his lack of innings and pitches per start, he's thrown an average of 107 pitches per start, including three complete games. His pitches per start is up to 103.6 from 100.8 through his May 28 start. I think it's quite obvious Kershaw reads this blog and took my criticism to heart.

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Matt Kemp's sixth-inning home run last night took all of 3.93 seconds from contact to the stands (by my time, your time may vary). It was the second-fastest home run (in terms of MPH) for Kemp this season.

And as I write this, Kemp hit another home run -- his 24th of the season.

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Just when it seemed like Chris Withrow was turning the corner, he's had a couple of poor starts in a row.

Withrow's last two starts (total):

6 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 14 BB, 9 K

The walks are the biggest culprit of regression. It's hard to tell exactly what happened, as he walked just 18 batters in his previous eight starts. Let's hope it was just a speed bump.

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Zach Lee, Allen Webster and Dee Gordon have gotten some love lately. Baseball America, Keith Law (ESPN, subscription required) and Kevin Goldstein (Baseball Prospectus, subscription required) have come out with midseason Top 50 prospect lists in recent weeks. Here's how the trio fared on each list:

Lee: BA - 39, Law - 33, Goldstein - 33
Webster: BA - 47, Law - 37, Goldstein - 48
Gordon: BA - 21

Jerry Sands and Rubby De La Rosa were ineligible for these lists, or they surely would have made each list (Gordon might have been ineligible for Law and Goldstein's lists). In fact, Law said in his chat De La Rosa would have been in the Top 20-25.

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