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Dodgers Greatest Left Handers of All Time

The Dodgers have had many talented left-handed pitchers, but who ranks in the top 5?

Dodgers
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 01: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on August 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Dodgers have had many talented left-handed pitchers throughout the history of the franchise.

In honor of National Left-Handers Day, here are the top 5 Dodgers left-handed pitchers of All-Time.

5. Nap Rucker:

Nap Rucker had a 10-year career, all spent with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rucker pitched in 336 games. He had a record of 134-134, including 14 saves, and an ERA of 2.42. Rucker played for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1907-1916. He pitched in 2,375.1 innings, and struck out 1,217 batters.

4. Jerry Reuss:

Jerry Reuss played in the MLB for 22-years. He spent 9 of the 22 years with the Dodgers, from 1979-1987. In 1980, Reuss was named an All-Star. With the Dodgers, Reuss had a record of 86-69, including 8 saves, with an ERA of 3.11. He was featured in 253 games.

In 1981, he was slated to be the opening day starter for Los Angeles before an ankle injury set the stage for…

3. Fernando Valenzuela:

(Photo by Owen C. Shaw/Getty Images)

Fernando Valenzuela appeared in 453 games in his career, 331 of which he donned Dodger blue. He finished his career with a record of 173-153, including 2 saves. As a Dodger, he had a 3.31 ERA over 2,348.2 innings pitched. The 6-time All-Star was awarded the NL Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year awards in 1981. Moreover, he was a 2-time Silver Slugger award winner (’81, ’83), and won a Gold Glove award in 1986.

He was part of the 1981 and 1988 Dodgers World championship teams.

2. Sandy Koufax:

Sandy Koufax appeared in 397 games with the club, finishing with a record of 165-87, including 9 saves. He had a career ERA of 2.76, and he was also named an All-Star 6 times. Koufax won 3 Cy Young Awards along the way, and he was also named Most Valuable Player in 1963. Koufax tossed 2,234.1 innings in Dodger blue while striking out 2,396 batters. He was a life-long Dodger, in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, from 1955-1966.

1. Clayton Kershaw:

The best for last, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has pitched in 338 games, a career record of 164-71, and an ERA of 2.41. He is also a 3 time Cy Young award winner, and has one NL Most Valuable Player Award to boot.

The 8 time All-Star has pitched 2,226.1 career innings, all for Los Angeles, and he’s struck out 2,406 batters – the most all time for a Dodger lefty. Kershaw has been a Dodger for 12 seasons, and still shows no signs of slowing down.

Written by Levon Satamian

My name is Levon Satamian. I am currently attending Cal State Northridge, and majoring in Broadcast Journalism.

15 Comments

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  1. Worth remembering that when Sandy won 3 Cy Youngs in a four year span, they only awarded one in the major leagues, not one in each league. And that he was the front runner to win in ‘64 before coming down with elbow trouble in August. Truly remarkable dominance.

  2. You are obviously too young. Sandy Koufax is without peer greatest left handed Dodgers pitcher. Kershaw is # 2. He has never faced Mays, Clemente, McCovey, Stargell, Banks. The choice isn’t even close.

  3. Kershaw is no Koufax. Sandy Koufax led the Dodgers to 3 World Series championships, in 2 of which he was the WS MVP, with a post-season ERA of 0.95. Kershaw has led the Dodgers to 0 World Series championships, with a post-season ERA of 4.32, suffering critical meltdowns through his entire career.

  4. Clayton Kershaw is a great pitcher. Sandy Koufax was one of the greatest of all time. He had four no-hitters including one perfect game. A key difference between the two is their post-season records. I could go on and on, but I refer you to Rick Rodstrom’s comments above as well as others. Claude Osteen should be No. 4. He was 147-126 in nine seasons with the Dodgers and twice was a 20-game winner. Jerry Reuss was 86-69 in nine years with the Dodgers and never won 20 games, twice reaching 18. Osteen shut out the Twins in Game 3 of the 1965 World Series, a must-win game after the Dodgers lost the first two games of the Series. Osteen’s career World Series ERA was 0.86, Reuss’ was 3.86. I’d put Johnny Podres at No. 5. He was 136-104 in 10 years with the Dodgers and shut out the Ynkees in Game 7 of the World Series to give Brooklyn its only World Championship. He pitched two complete games in that series, twice beating the Yankees. I would drop Reuss off the list as well Rucker off the list, who career mark was an even .500 and who pitched in the dead ball era.

    • Great summation! I too was wondering how Reuss was ove Osteen. I hadn’t thought of Podres, but he absolutely should be on this list. Koufax 1,Kershaw 2.

  5. Koufax was dominant his last 5 years, before having to retire with the arthritic elbow. He had 100 complete games and 33 shutouts over those 5 years and in three of those years had win totals of 25, 26 and 27. The Dodger offense during the Koufax years was mediocre to average in comparison to the support Kershaw has received. Career stats make it hard to favor one over the other, but given the peak years for both and Koufax World Series success I have to give Sandy the edge. Kershaw has been great for a longer period of time and I wonder if his numbers have benefited from being in a 5 man rotation and pitch counts, while Sandy pitched in 4 man rotation and many complete games, averaging nearly 8 innings per start over his dominant seasons.

  6. If I could see Kershaw take 2 out of 4 against the mighty Yankees in the world series or watch him come back in game seven of the world series and pitch a 2-0 shutout on two days rest against anyone, I might consider him #1, but right now, ain’t nobody as good as Sandy Koufax! By the way, Johnny Podres belongs in the top 5 and Claude Osteen!!

  7. This is a lot closer with Kershaw and Koufax than some of you gents are letting on, and if we use data instead of opinion, we’ll see that. Point 1: WAR, which aims to be an all-in-one stat of value has Kershaw at 67.2 and Koufax at 48.9. Not close. Point 2: ERA+ is a measure of how a pitcher compares against the league average year by year. Sure, Koufax faced Mays, Clemente, Stargell, and Banks, but so did every other NL pitcher in that era. How did Koufax fare compared to his peers? He was 31% better (131 ERA+). The logical mistake being made with Kershaw is that we don’t yet know who the all-time greats are that he’s faced yet, because most of them are still playing. So, let’s look how Kershaw fares against his peers: he’s 58% better (158 ERA+). While true that this isn’t a direct comparison, it does show that Kershaw is significantly better than his peers compared to Koufax. Oh, and toss in that Kershaw has a better ERA than any starter who didn’t have any of their career before 1920. Oh, and toss in that Kershaw is the only pitcher to lead both leagues in ERA 4 straight years. Kershaw is also the only pitcher in history to lower his ERA his first 10 years in the league, and given the previous point, that’s a hard thing to do. Sandy Koufax pitched his entire career on a raised mound, which inflated his stats. Koufax also pitched in an era where starters threw a lot more innings. This doesn’t change his rate stats, but it definitely inflates his count stats relative to Kershaw’s. In addition, Koufax never had a denouement to his career, due to his elbow, so we never saw the 38 year old Koufax getting knocked around the park. Lastly, if anyone is paying attention, we’re playing in an inflated offensive era, which only impacts Kershaw. I’ll concede the point that Koufax had much more consistent post season success, but the author of the article is perfectly within his rights to put Kershaw at #1.

    • You clearly are a sabremetrics fan and likely under 30 years of age. Nothing wrong with what you’ve pointed out. But, if I had one huge game to win, I’d have Sandy on the mound before Kersh.

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