Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has always been a man on a mission, possessing the dedication and determination necessary to become an elite-level pitcher.
As Kershaw worked to establish himself as the ace of the Dodgers’ staff, many lifelong Dodger fans and baseball connoisseurs began to compare him to another Dodger left-hander — one Sandy Koufax. The former Dodger pitcher is regarded as one of the all-time greats and being compared to Koufax is no small achievement for Kershaw.
Though the similarities are there, Kershaw was astounded when first asked about the Koufax comparisons, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
If you’re going to get compared to somebody, that’s the guy. It’s the biggest honor you can get. But I also take that with a grain of salt. In his prime, he was the best ever. I have to get a lot better to prove that right.”
Maury Wills, current bunting-instructor and former roommate of Koufax, says that he sees a lot of Koufax in Kershaw:
There are very strong similarities between Clayton and Sandy. Clayton is quiet like Sandy, introverted, very polite and, of course, a great talent.”
If there is one compliment that Kershaw has consistently received from the Dodgers’ staff, it is that of his work ethic and mental approach. Kershaw is a big believer in the philosophy of getting out what you put in. The two-time Cy Young Award winner takes the mound to leave it all on the field and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the win.
Who has Kershaw compared himself to? The answer might not be someone you would expect to hear:
I try to pattern myself after Johan Santana of the Twins. He’s as close to a left-handed power pitcher as you can get.”
After his no-hitter, Kershaw is now 7-2 with an ERA of 2.52 in his 10 starts this season. The Dodgers are starting to look like a model of consistency after a shaky start to the season and will look for Kershaw to help spearhead another run.
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