May 30th, 2008 (2nd major league start)
23 years old
6'3" 220 pounds
Bats L/Throws L
The southpaw from Texas was drafted out of high school as the 7th pick in the 2006 draft, and he has lived up to the hype, blowing through the minor leagues (10+ K/9), and debuting in 2008 just after his 20th birthday. He's 29-26 for his career, with a 3.19 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Last year, only his 3rd year in the majors, he had a 2.91 ERA. I saw him in his 2nd major league start at Shea Stadium, but he is a much different pitcher from when he first came up.
Kershaw throws over-the-top with an excellent downhill angle. He was made famous for his "public enemy #1" (curve ball) by Vin Scully in Spring Training, but he rarely throws it for a strike and batters have taken notice. He throws his fastball 70% of his pitches and it averages 93 mph. His slider is his 2nd best pitch, throwing it 23% and 83 mph. There is some talk that Kershaw is throwing two sliders, one sweeping slider 81-82 mph, and another hard slider, almost a cutter, that's 86 mph. Something to keep an eye on. His curveball is 73 mph, but he throws it only 6% of the time now. He will throw one or two change-ups a game (84 mph). He gets swing and misses around 10%, blowing away the league average of 8.4%. He throws 1st pitch fastball 80% of the time, and relies on his fastball and his slider as his strikeout pitch, although you need to be on the lookout for his curve 0-2 and 1-2.
Kershaw made a big step forward last year in transitioning to his slider from his curve as his best 2ndry pitch, and it paid immediate dividends, as he was able to throw less pitches and more innings (204 innings), and he wasn't "abused". He also cut his BB/9 rate down to 3.6, while striking out more than a batter an inning.
This year, Kershaw is 3-3 in 7 starts (45 innings), with a 3.38 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He's striking out a hitter an inning, and also lowered his BB/9 to <3 (career average is 4). He has let up a lot more home runs than the previous two year (6 in 45 innings; he let up 13 in 200+ innings last year), including a home run in each of his last 4 starts.
For his career, he's 2-0 versus the Mets (3 starts), and in his last two starts against us (2009 and 2010), he has 14 shutout innings, for a 2.04 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. His only hiccup was when he lasted only 3 2/3 inning versus the Mets at Shea in his 2nd major league start in 2008.
Kershaw is an ace, and is only 23 years old (4 years younger than Lincecum, J Johnson, C Hamels, Jimenez). The Mets will have their hands full with him.