After dominating hitters in a way few pitchers in the history of the game have, Clayton Kershaw was voted the National League Pitcher of the Month for June, the Dodgers announced today in a press release. The lefty won all six of his starts, holding hitters to a .161 batting average while posting a 0.82 earned run average.
The pinnacle of his achievement was the June 18 game in which he established a career-high 15 strikeouts and no-hit the Rockies. The 15 strikeouts were the most in baseball history for a game in which the pitcher did not allow a batter to reach base via hit, walk or hit by pitch. Only an error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez kept Kershaw from a perfect game. Measuring the outing by Bill James’ Game Score, the contest was the second greatest pitching performance in the history of the game, trailing only Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout one-hitter in 1998.
After the no-hit game, Kershaw tossed eight scoreless innings and struck out eight at Kansas City. In his final June start Sunday, Kershaw struck out 13 Cardinals, limiting them to five hits and a pair of walks in seven innings. It marked the ninth win against two losses for the NL leader in winning percentage.
Kershaw struck out 61 in June, the most by a Dodger pitcher in a calendar month since Sandy Koufax equaled the total in 1966. His 107 strikeouts in 2014 rank sixth in the NL, despite missing all of April with a balky back. The 26-year old was so dominating during the month that he did not allow a single run in his last three starts. His current run of 28 consecutive scoreless innings is tops among active streaks. It also is a personal best, improving upon his previous high of 22 scoreless frames from May 8-19, 2012.
The Dodgers inked Kershaw to a seven-year $215 million contract in the off-season. The deal will take him through his age-32 season. Though the nine-figure commitment to a pitcher seems to some astronomical, Kershaw just might pitch well enough for the deal to be called a bargain.
This marks the third Pitcher of the Month Award for Kershaw who was also recognized in July 2011 and July 2013. The pitcher will receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved to commemorate his performance.