The search for utopia is a futile one. For humans to truly appreciate happiness, we must always be reminded of our sadness. If happiness were a constant, it would become no longer desirable. A world without imperfections is a world impure.
And so to truly appreciate Clayton Kershaw is more than to simply watch a glorious seven-minute YouTube highlight video of Vin Scully calling every out of Kershaw’s June 18, 2014 no-hitter against the Rockies in Los Angeles. I mean, yeah, that’s a part of it — watching that specific video is actually one of the required steps; you’ve gotta watch the video — but by only observing Kershaw at his best, by choosing only to remember his triumphs, by only witnessing him accomplish that which leaves his peers in awe, we begin to lose context. For our admiration of Kershaw to be pure, we must always remind ourselves of his fleeting moments of fallibility, for they are what allow us to appreciate his greatness.
I’m a man of my word. And I’d sure like to continue enjoying Clayton Kershaw. So let’s watch him throw some trash pitches.
Kershaw Trash Pitch No. 1
- Description: Four-seam fastball in an 0-2 count against Charlie Blackmon, thrown 2.4 feet from the horizontal center of the plate, glove-side, and in the dirt. The furthest fastball thrown from the center of the plate by Kershaw all year, as well as the third-slowest (91.2 mph). Truly, a terrible fastball.
- Game story quote: “I thought he was sharp again tonight,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “I think the runs help you relax a little bit. He’s been throwing the ball well really for a while.”
- What else did Kershaw do that day? Struck out seven over seven innings while allowing just two earned runs at Coors. Swinging strikes on 13 of 93 pitches. Went 3-for-4 with a double.
Kershaw Trash Pitch No. 2
- Description: Four-seam fastball in an 0-2 count, thrown directly down the center of the plate to one of the best hitters in the world. Annihilated for a dinger. This sucker came off the bat at 110 mph. The most-down-the-middle fastball Kershaw threw with two strikes all year. He shouldn’t have been anywhere near the strike zone with this pitch, especially against Troy Tulowitzki. Truly, a terrible fastball.
- Game story quote: “Guys don’t hit [Kershaw] the way they hit other pitchers,” Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal said.
- What else did Kershaw do that day? Struck out 12 in six innings, allowing just three hits and a walk. Swinging strikes on 16 of 104 pitches.
Kershaw Trash Pitch No. 3
- Description: Curveball, 0-1, to Bryce Harper. Thrown 2.5 feet high, and more than a foot inside. Vertical drop of six inches — 60% the break of a typical Kershaw curveball — with essentially no discernible glove-side run. The least movement on a Kershaw curveball (outside of Coors Field) all year. Lowest PITCHf/x spin rate on a Kershaw curve all year. Truly, a terrible curveball.
- Game story quote: “It seemed like everything was sharp tonight,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw. “Tonight it looked like it came out easy”
- What else did Kershaw do that day? Struck out the side in the following inning, all on the curveball. Took a perfect game into the sixth inning. Became just the 10th pitcher in major league history to record at least 200 strikeouts in six consecutive seasons. Tied Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale for most 200-strikeout seasons in Dodgers history. Went eight shutout with eight K’s, allowing only three baserunners.
Kershaw Trash Pitch No. 4
- Description: Curveball, 0-1, three feet high and more than a foot-and-a-half outside, facing Aramis Ramirez. It’s the furthest curveball from the center of the strike zone, above the waist, thrown by Kershaw all year. Truly, a terrible curveball.
- Game story quote: “Kershaw was tough early,” Brewers pitcher Kyle Lohse said. (Note: curveball pictured from second inning.)
- What else did Kershaw do that day? Pitched into the eighth inning while striking out eight. Three hits, no walks. Swinging strikes on 15 of 91 pitches.
Kershaw Trash Pitch No. 5
- Description: Full-count slider to Chris Denorfia, just bounced like two feet in front of the plate like a buffoon. Skips so far away from home that Denorfia considers taking two bases. Not only is this the furthest Kershaw slider from the center of the zone all year by more than eight inches, but it’s the furthest Kershaw slider from the center of the zone in a three-ball count by more than two feet. Bonus announcer quote: “And that one hits Denorfia, he’ll take his base.” It didn’t hit Denorfia. Just a truly, truly, terrible slider.
- Game story quote: “He was just really deceptive,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said. “But he’s the best pitcher in the game.”
- What else did Kershaw do that day? Nine strikeouts, seven innings, four hits, three earned. Eclipsed 20 swinging strikes, one of the seven starts in which he did so.
Kershaw Trash Pitch No. 6
- Description: Slider, 1-1, to Clint freaking Barmes. Broke less than an inch horizontally with less than half the usual vertical drop for a Kershaw slider. The eighth-worst movement on a Kershaw slider all year. Clobbered out of the park by Clint freaking Barmes. Clint freaking Barmes, by the way, owns a career .294/.351/.500 slash line against Kershaw. Among all players with at least 37 (yep don’t care) career plate appearances against Kershaw, Barmes has the third-highest OPS in history. Clint Barmes owns Clayton Kershaw. But, about that slider. Yeah, truly a terrible slider.
- Game story quote: “His stuff is good,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Nothing really changes with him.”
- What else did Kershaw do that day? Eleven strikeouts, one run over six and two-thirds. Generated 21 swinging strikes — his third-highest total of the season. Pitched into the seventh for a sixth consecutive game, a span in which Kershaw held a 2.11 ERA while striking out 56 batters in 42 innings and walking just 11.
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This has been Clayton Kershaw throwing trash pitches. They became increasingly difficult to locate, because Clayton Kershaw throws very few of them. May we all now have gained a greater appreciation for the best pitcher on the planet, by watching him serve up hot baseball garbage.
August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.