Thursday, October 10, 2019

Worst Big Game Great Pitcher Ever?

I think we have to really consider those laurels now for Mr. Clayton Kershaw.

On its sports page—now officially known as "The Bizarre-o World Wormhole"—the Paper of Record ran some piece this postseason comparing Kershaw to the Dodgers' true Special K, Sandy Koufax.


The sample sizes are very different, of course.  As are the eras they played in.  Sandy certainly benefited from pitching in the greatest pitchers' era since 1920—and allegedly in a Dodgers Stadium where they kept the lights down low (he and all other Dodgers pitchers from the era DO have alarmingly lower ERAs at home).

But comparatively speaking, Koufax only got better—MUCH better—in the postseason.  While K2 got much, much worse.

Koufax in the regular season, lifetime:   165-87, 2.76, 1.106 WHIP.
Koufax in the World Series, lifetime:        4-3,   0.95, 0.825 WHIP.

Kershaw in the regular season, lifetime: 169-74, 2.44, 1.008 WHIP.
Kershaw in the postseason, lifetime:          9-11,  4.43, 1.105 WHIP.
Kershaw in the World Series, lifetime:      1-2,    5.44, 1.163 WHIP.

A big part of the problem, I suspect, is that Kershaw's managers have always believed that he can be used as a starter on regular OR short rest in the postseason, AND as a reliever—as if he were, say, another Allie Reynolds, or one of the other starters that Casey Stengel used almost at will in the Series.

What these guys have missed is that Stengel was a baseball genius, who quite deliberately made sure NOT to overwork his top starters during the regular season.  And with these extended postseasons, the strain must be all the greater today.

For instance, before last night Kershaw was actually quite effective as a postseason reliever, allowing just 1 earned run in 7 2/3 innings, with 1 save.  (Now it is 3 in 8, with a save and a blown save.)  But what kind of toll did this take on his arm?

Koufax WAS able to pitch on short rest in the 1965 Series, and he pitched brilliantly, shutting out the Twins in his third start of the Series.  And he was pushed to pitch on short rest down the stretch of the 1966 season.  But he was never considered to be an all-purpose, any-situation guy, the way that Dodgers manager apparently feel that Kershaw is—usually to their regret.



Anonymous said...

Kershaw has the 2nd best (157) ERA+ in Baseball history. #3 is Pedro (154) and #5 is deGrom (148). #1 (of course) is the Reliever GOAT.

So yeah, Clayton has spit the bit in the PS... but it's a relatively small sample size (158 IP) compared to a career of over 2200 IP.

Anonymous said...

Another factor from last night...

Washington has the most 8th an 9th inning runs scored in baseball. They have total belief in their ability to come back in the late innings.

While this would count as the dreaded "clutch hitting" what it really means to me is that they don't fold.

What we should worry about should we and the Nats get to the series is EL "The Adventure" Chapo trying to hold a lead against a "team of destiny".

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And hey, I don't mean to say Kershaw is necessarily a choker. I think he has been used carelessly, as so many pitchers are in October.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Good point, Doug K. BUT, watching the Mets come back on Doolittle & co. this season, I'm not all that impressed. Should we make it to the World Series—a near mathematical impossibility!—there could be endless, late-inning, ding-dong action.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

World Series stats are by definition "small sample size" unless you are Yogi.

The fucking title of the post is "Worst Big Game Great Pitcher Ever?"

Fuck small sample size stat-douches. As a certain coach used to say, "you are what your record says you are." And he had small sample size seasons. His Super Bowl rings still fucking count.


13bit said...

As an aside, this is WAY too long between games.

Anonymous said...


I know. I totally agree with you that they were using him wrong. I just wanted to frighten us all because the Nats comebacks were VERY impressive and El Chapo doesn't work clean innings to begin with. :)

Doug K.

Anonymous said...

And 4-0 Houston after 1

Doug k.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Let's hope it goes 25 innings.

HoraceClarke66 said...

TB is hanging in, as always. But I can't believe Cash didn't have a quicker hook than that, particularly against Cole.

Platoni said...

So many manager brain farts this postseason. Or is it hindsight?

Nah, I'm right. They suck

Austria's Only Baseball Fan said...

And it's 4-1 Houston after 6. Lots of Ks. Rays have used about 17 pitchers so far. More commercial time than playing time.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And yes, that's the man you want to bring in with the game on the line: Pagan. Because he pitched so brilliantly before.


Altuve is a beast. But then we knew that. This is not going to be pleasant.

Austria's Only Baseball Fan said...

Gerrit Cole has 10Ks and 103 pitches after the 8th, and Houston is now up 5-1. He is just coasting, still tossing at 99 mph. I won't be surprised if he plays the full game. The Rays have used AT LEAST nine pitchers!

As I was writing - back-to-back homers from Houston - 6-1! Tell the Yankees to start packing for a trip to Texas.

HoraceClarke66 said...

So, consecutive home runs and Pagan is STILL out there?


Why not tell your team to walk off the field right now if this is your attitude?

HoraceClarke66 said...

Ah, and now comes that pitcher No. 9 for TB.

How to destroy baseball: have the Tampa Bay Rays on as much as possible.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Wow, the Astros just being handed calls, even up 6-1. This does not bode well for the Yanks' trip to Houston.

JM said...

We shall demolish these overrated clowns. Who can only win at home, but we can win at least one.

Fuck Hal. Fuck Houston.

Austria's Only Baseball Fan said...

Are the Yanks bring CC to Texas? Maybe he can fly in the baggage compartment.

Fick dich, Hal!

HoraceClarke66 said...

Nah. They'll beat us in five. Maybe six.

Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside said...

My Red Sox fan coworkers have hung Astro’s signs. They deserve to die.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

8 pm games. Hello, sleep deprivation.

Wish me luck tomorrow. I'm replacing the pressure tank on my incoming water and moving the filter in the process. I'll have no water until I can get everything back together and not leaking.

Oh, and the cheatriots suck. Bigly. (that's for snowflake anon).

HoraceClarke66 said...

Yeah, I have to agree, Rufus. I'm not a Giants fan...but that was a travesty tonight.

It reminded me of the last few years of Michael Jordan's career, when the refs simply would not call a foul against him. He was still great, but you wanted to tell them, "He doesn't need any help!"

So it is now with Brady and the Patriots. Still great, no doubt about it. And they don't need to get every conceivable pass interference call in their favor and against the other team.

Did love Daniel Jones going all out to make the tackle on that fumble return. This guy has a future...unless he tries to make many more tackles like that!

Austria's Only Baseball Fan said...

Rufus, I wish you good luck on this sunny Viennese morning as you are about to replace the pressure tank on your incoming water and moving the filter in the process. You'll have no water until you can get everything back together and not leaking.

Viel GlÜck! Toi toi toi! Alles Gute! Pfiat di!

Anonymous said...

Can we add Tyler Glasnow to the list of worst big game pitchers?


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