Another Cy Young For
Remember how mortal that Kershaw, the two-time Cy Young winner, looked early this season? He pitched well in the 2014 MLB season opener in Australia against the Diamondbacks, but then soon after went on the disabled list with discomfort in his back. Kershaw didn't pitch again until May 6, when he blanked the Nationals over seven innings. However, then he allowed 10 runs over 8.2 innings in his next two starts, both Dodgers losses. Was something still wrong with him?
Kershaw was fine after that and he took things to a new level in June, when Kershaw was 6-0 with a ridiculous 0.82 ERA with 61 strikeouts, 26 hits allowed and four walks in 44 innings. He no-hit the Rockies at Dodger Stadium on June 18, striking out 15 and walking none in one of the greatest performances ever. It should have been a perfect game if not for a silly error by Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
The southpaw became the only pitcher in major-league history to be unbeaten with that many wins, that many strikeouts and an ERA that low in any month. How did he do it? Kershaw faced 162 batters in June. Throw out the 61 who whiffed and four who walked, and that leaves 97. A total of 63 of those, or 65 percent, were retired on ground balls, the highest rate for in the majors. Only 34 batters hit the ball in the air. Amazing. Needless to say, Kershaw was named the NL Pitcher of the Month.
Kershaw (9-2, 2.04) brings a 28-inning scoreless streak into Friday's game, and how long before we start to question whether former Dodger Orel Hershiser's 59-inning record of 1988 is in jeopardy? Hershiser didn't have to pitch at hitter-happy Coors Field in Denver's thin air as Kershaw does. That might not matter. He pitched there on June 8 and allowed just a run and three hits over five innings. All time Kershaw has been just so-so there, going 6-3 with a 5.03 ERA in 14 starts.
Rockies star Troy Tulowitzki is 12-for-52 off Kershaw with two home runs and seven RBIs career but also with 12 strikeouts. Catcher Wilin Rosario is 5-for-20 with a home run, four RBIs and nine strikeouts. Third baseman Nolan Arenado, who was activated off the disabled list on Thursday, is 3-for-12 off Kershaw. He didn't play in that no-hitter. Neither did very good Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who remains on the DL.
The last guy with two no-hitters in same season was Nolan Ryan on May 15 and July 15 in 1973, the first of two of the Hall of Famer's record seven no-hitters.
The Other Guy
Indeed there is another starting pitcher in Friday's game: Colorado Rockies right-hander Jair Jurrjens. It was originally lefty Jorge De La Rosa's turn but the Rockies moved him back a day. The Dodgers probably were bummed considering De La Rosa was 2-3 with a 7.11 ERA in June and two losses were against the Dodgers. He was the starter opposite Kershaw in the no-hitter and hammered for eight runs and six hits while walking five over 3.1 innings. He lasted 5.1 at Coors Field on June 8, allowing five runs and walking four in 5.1 innings.
The Rockies just acquired Jurrjens from the Reds for a minor-leaguer Jurrjens pitched just two games in the majors in 2013 with Baltimore. He was 2-3 with a 4.46 ERA for the Reds' Triple-A affiliate this season. Jurrjens used to be pretty good, one of the best pitchers in the NL in the first half of the 2011 season, making the All-Star Game. He really hasn't been the same since. Jurrjens will be the 13th different starter for the Rockies this season, the most in the majors. Some Dodgers have a history against him. Hanley Ramirez is 7-for-22 with three home runs and five RBIs. He has been dealing with a calf injury and started Thursday for the first time since June 23. Ramirez will be handled with kid gloves until the All-Star Break, so he may or may not start this one. Andre Ethier is 6-for-13 in his career off Jurrjens. Adrian Gonzalez is 4-for-14 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs.
MLB free picks
This line jumped from L.A. around -165 and a total of 8.5 to its current line of -192 and a total of 9 with the Rockies subbing Jurrjens for De La Rosa. Still take L.A. and the 'under' as MLB betting picks for today. The Dodgers are 4-0 in Kershaw's past four in Colorado. The 'under' has hit in four straight at Coors Field between these teams.