LA' s Kershaw Might Not be Koufax -- Yet

Clayton Kershaw heard the inevitable comparisons to Sandy Koufax when he was drafted, from then-manager Joe Torre after seeing him for the first time in spring training, and when he shared a stage 17 months ago with those two at a charity function in Los Angeles

. The comparisons were understandable since they are both left-handed, threw hard, and both buckled hitters' knees with a 12-to-6 curveball. Of course, that didn't make the comparisons fair.

Now in his fourth year in the majors, Kershaw throws a slider more than the curveball, and he keeps accomplishing things that haven't been achieved since Koufax. Kershaw allowed five hits and no walks in eight scoreless innings Thursday in the Dodgers 5-1 victory over the Brewers. He struck out six, and that gives him 199 for the season. With his first strikeout next Tuesday at St. Louis, he will reach 200 for the season, and the only Dodgers to do it quicker were Koufax (five times) and Don Drysdale (once).

Kershaw has won seven of his last eight starts, going 7-1 with a 1.33 ERA since July 7. The left-hander has limited opposing hitters to a .198 batting average with 61 strikeouts over 61.0 innings in that span. Kershaw leads the National League with 199 strikeouts:
 
Date          Player            Ks After Game
July 8, 1962	Sandy Koufax (1962)   202
July 16, 1965	Sandy Koufax (1965)   204
July 27, 1966	Sandy Koufax (1966)   201
Aug. 7, 1963	Sandy Koufax (1963)   210
Aug. 8, 1964	Sandy Koufax (1964)   200                    
Aug. 10, 1963	Don Drysdale (1963)   201
Aug. 25, 1961	Sandy Koufax (1961)   200      
   By accomplishing the feat in his 26th start, Kershaw would tie with Sandy Koufax (1964) for the fifth-fewest starts needed by a Dodger to fan 200:
 
Start (Date)       	Player       Ks After Game
21 (July 8, 1962)       Sandy Koufax		202
22 (July 16, 1965)  	Sandy Koufax		204
23 (Aug. 31, 1995) 	Hideo Nomo 		205
25 (July 27, 1966)  	Sandy Koufax		201
26 (Aug. 8, 1964)   	Sandy Koufax		200
 
     Source: L.A. Dodgers
 
Kershaw would become the first Dodger to reach the 200-strikeout plateau in back-to-back seasons since Kevin Brown in 1999 and 2000. 

After scoring two runs in the first two games of the series, the Dodgers scratched for five runs to improve Kershaw's record to 15-5 in 26 starts.

Since 1980, he's the fifth-fastest to reach 15 victories in a season. The only pitchers do it quicker are the better comparisons because they are more contemporary: Orel Hershisher, Fernando Valenzuela and Ramon Martinez.

Kershaw's picked up the decision in 11 consecutive starts, going 9-2 in that time.

The last Dodger to win 16 games was Chan Ho Park with 18 in 2000. The last Dodger to win 20 games was Ramon Martinez in 1990.

Kershaw has an opportunity for 20 wins with at least seven starts remaining. Only two off days remain on the schedule, but if the Dodgers tweak their rotation slightly the final week, Kershaw could get an additional start in the final game of the regular season.

He has 26.8 percent of the Dodgers' wins, 15 of 56.

From the department of "this isn't surprising considering the previous sentence," this was the ninth losing streak that Kershaw has snapped this year.

He's ended a five-game losing streak once, two different four-game losing streaks, two different three-game losing streaks, and two different two-game losing streaks.

NOTES, QUOTES
-- Matt Kemp threw out Casey McGehee trying to advance to third base last night for the Dodgers' 29th outfield assist of the season, tying Washington for the National League lead. Individually, Andre Ethier and Tony Gwynn Jr. are tied for sixth in the NL with eight outfield assists apiece and Kemp is tied for 11th on the circuit with seven.  

--Los Angeles has blanked an opponent a Major League-best eight times since July 1 and is tied with Philadelphia for the overall Major League lead with 15 shutouts. The Dodgers' next shutout will tie their season total of 16 from 2010.

--RHP Nathan Eovaldi will have "a few" more starts, according to manager Don Mattingly, but won't get shut down. He'll be moved to the bullpen. The Dodgers want to limit his innings, but want him to keep pitching through the end of September.

--3B Casey Blake didn't start Thursday, which was a scheduled day off for him, but he left Wednesday's game in the sixth inning because of pain in his right shoulder. He'll be re-evaluated Friday. This would be his fourth injury this season. The previous three required a trip to the disabled list.

--RHP Javy Guerra, who hadn't pitched since Friday, got the final three outs in a non-save situation. He gave up a run on Ryan Braun's triple and Prince Fielder's sacrifice fly, snapping a streak of 11 1/3 scoreless innings. He still hasn't allowed a run in a save situation.

--C Rod Barajas hit a solo home run in the second inning. It was his 11th home run of the season and that's second-most on the Dodgers. That a platoon catcher would be second in home run says a lot about the Dodgers' power this year.

--C Dioner Navarro allowed two wild pitches to get away from him in Wednesday's game on balls that he tried to backhand, instead of moving his body to get in front. Manager Don Mattingly watched replays, and talked with bullpen catchers Mike Borzello and Rob Flippo, and told reporters they thought those were tough pitches to block.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22 -- Number of games since Andre Ethier's last home run. It came on July 25 against the Rockies, who the Dodgers play this weekend at Denver. Ethier went 1-for-3 with a walk in Thursday's game, and his slump reached 4-for-34.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Honestly, I'm trying to be selective. If he gets Prince (Fielder) with a popup or a strikeout or whatever there, then it's two (good outings) in a row. And we think maybe we're getting (him) back. That's what we're trying to do, incrementally get him a little success and confidence. I still believe in what's there. I know it's there." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on using Hong-Chih Kuo to start the ninth inning of Tuesday's 1-1 game. Kuo walked Fielder and was removed. Fielder scored the game-winning run and Kuo was charged with the loss.

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