Celebrate Clayton Kershaw's 300 strikeouts with some of his best from this season
Clayton Kershaw's best strikeouts this year
At some point, we will run out of new impressive feats for Clayton Kershaw to conquer. After all, the 27-year-old, three-time Cy Young winner is a four-time ERA title holder (this year ended his stranglehold over the title ... with a 2.13 ERA). But on the season's final day, Kershaw entered with a league-leading 294 strikeouts, putting him in close position to becoming the first 300-strikeout pitcher since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling pulled it off in 2002.
Well, sorry to ruin the suspense, but he did it. Taking the mound against the Padres in Chavez Ravine on Sunday afternoon, it was time to bust out all of your "300" references. Like "We'll pitch in the shade" or "Tonight we play baseball in hell."
Kershaw was a bit more fortunate than his Spartan counterpart, though. The ace left-hander K'd two in the first, two in the second, and two in the third to reach the mark, setting down Melvin Upton on three straight pitches.
Kershaw would go on to strike out one more batter before being lifted with two outs in the fourth, his season line ending at a sparkling 2.13 ERA and 301 strikeouts.
Now that he's topped the three-century mark, let's look back at some of Kershaw's greatest K's this season. Like his fastest pitch, this 95.6 mph heater against Josh Harrison that the Pirates utilityman could only marvel at. Sometimes there's no point in even walking up to the plate.
Kershaw's curve was remarkably effective, too. Perhaps surprisingly, he would often use it to just nip the top of the zone, like when he stopped Mike Trout:
Of course, he could also bounce it like a slinky and batters were still unable to hold up their swing:
And let's not forget that beautiful slider:
Even when he elevated it, batters could only throw their bats at the ball and hope for the best. I call this one the "Armageddon" because it's similar to Ben Affleck hurling his spaceship at an asteroid.
Kershaw also struck out three batters with the bases loaded, but perhaps none were bigger than in the SoCal Derby. On his way to picking up the victory, he first had to send Kole Calhoun down swinging when he was at the plate as the tying run.
The best hitters in the game were also unable to touch him. Brandon Belt was 0-for-10 with eight strikeouts, Kris Bryant was 1-for-5 with four K's (though his one hit was a home run), and the likely NL MVP Bryce Harper went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts, including three in a single game:
Even his hard-hitting counterpart, Madison Bumgarner, was only 1-for-7 with four strikeouts. (Though Bumgarner does have the edge in that regard. Kershaw was 0-for-9 with five strikeouts when facing off against the Giants' ace.)
What does Kershaw have in mind for an encore next year? Perhaps he'll decide to give batters a fair chance and he'll start pitching from second base, or even doing it blindfolded. After all, we truly are running out of new ways to say, "Wow, this guy is amazing."