MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Kershaw a modern day Koufax

Current Dodgers ace putting up numbers reminiscent of Hall of Fame southpaw

MLB Notebook: Kershaw a modern day Koufax

From 1962-66, Sandy Koufax captured five National League ERA title and three MLB ERA titles. Over this span, Koufax fanned 26.8 percent of all batters he faced (for this five-year stretch, all NL starters produced a 15.0 strikeout percentage), owned a 0.926 WHIP, came away a winner in 76.6 percent of his decisions and produced an adjusted ERA+ of 167. Koufax was pitching in his age-26 through age-30 seasons.

Within a five-year stretch beginning in 2010, Clayton Kershaw has produced a three-year run of consecutive Major League ERA titles ('11-13). He's placed himself in a good spot to make it four in a row this year. He has fanned 26.7 percent of all batters he has faced since '10 (NL starters for this stretch of seasons have produced a collective 18.7 strikeout percentage), has authored a 0.991 WHIP since '10, has come away a winner in 68.7 percent of his decisions since then, and his adjusted ERA+ since '10 stands at 162. He is pitching in his age-26 season this year.

Clayton's dominance continues
Kershaw allowed a run on three hits, fanned 10 with two walks and came away with his 15th win as the Dodgers defeated the Padres, 2-1, on Thursday.

Taking stock of Kershaw's 2014 season, here's how he ranks among all left-handers who have qualified for an ERA title since 1893:

• Kershaw's 0.828 WHIP would rank first, ahead of Dave McNally's 0.842 in 1968
• Kershaw's 1.82 ERA would sit in a tie for 28th
• Kershaw's 195 ERA+ would be 10th best
• Kershaw's 8.76 K:BB ratio would rank second, with Cliff Lee's 10.28 in 2010 the top mark
• Kershaw's 6.22 hits per nine would rank in a tie (with Koufax in 1964) for 18th
• Kershaw's 32.2 strikeout percentage would rank eighth

Kershaw will not turn 27 until next March. Dating back to 1914, his 27 career games with 10 or more strikeouts tie him with Fernando Valenzuela for the third most for any southpaw before his 27th birthday. Sam McDowell had 60, while Koufax chimed in with 40.

Kershaw now owns a career 150 ERA+ in 1,333 1/3 innings. For all pitchers since 1893 with at least 1,300 innings through their age-26 season (there are 93 of them), that ERA+ places him in a tie with Smoky Joe Wood for third, behind Walter Johnson (174) and Amos Rusie (152). Tom Seaver is just behind at 149.

MadBum and Buster lead the way
San Francisco's battery of Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey led the charge against Chicago, as Bumgarner fanned 12 over seven innings and Posey went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a homer. Behind those efforts, the Giants defeated the Cubs, 5-3.

Bumgarner, who allowed three runs for his 14th win, passed 850 career strikeouts with the effort. He is one of five left-handers since 1893 to have that many through his age-24 season, joining McDowell, Frank Tanana, Valenzuela and Kershaw. There are also 12 right-handers since 1893 who have fanned this many by this age, making Bumgarner the 17th overall to get there. Among these 17 and through each pitcher's age-24 season, Bumgarner's 3.82 K:BB ratio is the best, with Bert Blyleven's mark (3.29) coming in second.

Posey is coming up on 450 career games caught, and he owns a 139 career OPS+. For all catchers with at least 450 games behind the dish through their age-27 season, only Mike Piazza (with a 155) owns a better OPS+ at this stage than Posey. Joe Mauer was third, at 137, followed by Johnny Bench (131) and Joe Torre (130).

Nats walk away winners … again
For the fifth time in their past six games, the Nationals enjoyed a walk-off victory, this time in a 1-0 contest against the D-backs. Washington also had a walk-off victory on Aug. 7. Neither the Expos nor the Nats had ever before had a month with as many as six walk-off wins.

Thursday's victory pushed the Nationals' winning streak to 10 games to tie the franchise record. The club had seen four previous 10-game streaks, with the Expos posting them in 1979, '80 and '97, and the Nats authoring one in their first year in Washington in 2005.

The current 10-game winning streak matches for the longest in 2014, matching the Royals' 10-game run in June.

Stingy staffs
There have been seven NL teams since 1969 to post an ERA below 3.03 and a WHIP below 1.170.
Team ERA WHIP
2011 Phillies 3.02 1.167
1988 Mets 2.91 1.151
1981 Astros 2.66 1.154
1976 Mets 2.94 1.150
1975 Dodgers 2.92 1.132
1973 Dodgers 3.00 1.161
1972 Dodgers 2.78 1.158
 

With this latest shutdown effort, the Nationals' team ERA stands at an NL-best 3.03, and their team WHIP comes in at 1.176, which ranks second in the NL to the Giants' 1.170 mark. In the Division Era (since 1969), there have been seven NL teams to finish the year with marks this low or lower in these two categories. The 2011 Phillies, with a 3.02 team ERA and 1.167, were the most recent.

Huge effort from Hughes
Twins right-hander Phil Hughes worked seven innings of five-hit, one-run ball, fanned eight with no walks and came away with his 14th win, as Minnesota topped Cleveland, 4-1.

Hughes is tied for the AL lead in victories and has been on a tear in August, going 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA in four starts. In each of those four starts, he went at least six innings and allowed just one run.

The most recent Twins starter to finish an August with at least five wins, no losses and an ERA below 1.50 was Johan Santana in 2003, when the lefty went 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA. The most recent Minnesota right-hander to do this was Blyleven in 1986, when he was 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA.

Hughes is the first Twins pitcher since Santana in September-October 2005 to reel off four straight outings of at least six innings and no more than one run allowed.

Here and there
• Brandon McCarthy hurled a four-hit shutout with eight K's and no walks and the Yankees defeated the Astros, 3-0, in a two-hour, seven-minute affair that represented the Yanks' shortest nine-inning home game since June 18, 1996. McCarthy, who improved to 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA in eight starts with New York, is the second Yankees pitcher this season to have a shutout with no walks and four hits or fewer allowed, following Masahiro's Tanaka's effort on May 14. The Yanks most recently had two pitchers each have one such nine-inning shutout in a season in 2003, when David Wells and Mike Mussina each had one.

• Facing his old Rays team -- the club that saw him record 82 victories and 1,065 K's in 175 appearances for them -- Tigers lefty David Price allowed just one hit but took the loss in a 1-0 affair in St. Petersburg. Price went the distance, surrendering an RBI triple in the first inning. He was the 31st pitcher since 1914 to suffer a loss in a one-hit complete-game effort in a nine-inning contest. Price was the first since the Cardinals' Anthony Reyes on June 22, 2006, and the only Tigers pitcher among the 31. Among these 31, only one -- Kevin Appier on July 27, 1993 -- had more strikeouts than Price's nine. In Appier's effort for the Royals, he fanned 11 and lost to the Rangers, 1-0.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.