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Clayton Kershaw: Showing Signs Of A Future Ace

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The 21 year old starting pitcher for the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw, has been a hyped pitching prospect ever since the Dodgers drafted him 7th overall in the 2006 MLB First Year Player Draft. After drafting him, the Dodgers assigned him to rookie ball, where he dominated in 37 innings of work, striking out 54 and walking only 5, with a 1.95 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP.

In 2007, the Dodgers promoted him to their low-A affiliate Great Lakes, where he made 20 starts going 7-5 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. In 97+ innings, he struck out 134 but walked 50. Later in 2007, the Dodgers promoted him to AA Jacksonville, where Kershaw held his own in 5 starts, over 24+ innings, he struck out 29 but walked 17.

The walks were becoming a problem for Kershaw, but the Dodgers gave no thoughts to sending him down to single A in 2008. Kershaw made 11 starts in AA Jacksonville, where he went 2-3 with a 1.95 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. In 61+ innings, he struck out 59 and only walked 19.

The Dodgers were so impressed with his control and dominance in AA, they made the big move in June 2008 of promoting Kershaw to the major league team. He made 21 starts for the big league club, going 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. iN 107+ innings, Kershaw struck out 100 batters while walking 52, and giving up 109 hits. So the walks issue was still haunting Kershaw.

This year, Kershaw has made 16 starts, going 5-5 with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. In  87+ innings, he has struck out 88 while walking 52, but has only allowed 63 hits. He has had some absolutely dominating starts this year, including a 7 innings 13-strikeout performance vs the Giants in April. In 9 of his 16 starts this season, he has allowed 1 run or less, but he only has 5 wins to show for it. The problem again is the walks, which increases his pitch counts. He has thrown 6 or more innings in only 6 of his 16 starts this season.

But, since May 1, Kershaw is 5-3 with a 2.29 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. In his 12 starts since May 1st, he has thrown 66+ innings, striking out 62, walking 41 and allowing only 44 hits. Should Kershaw control his walks, and continue to pitch this well, he will be the fantasy ace that he was hyped up to be since he was drafted in 2006.

That time may be fast approaching.