Dear Mr. Harvey and Mr. Miller,
Don't forget about me.
* * * *
The amazing thing about Clayton Kershaw is that he delivers the goods nearly every time out. No lows, few bad outings, just consistent excellence start after start. His game Tuesday against the Nationals was probably his best of 2013 -- 8.2 innings, no runs, 11 strikeouts. But I suspect everyone will be talking about the 132 pitches he threw, a career high and only the fourth time he's even topped 120.
Relax, everyone. This isn't a situation to cry pitcher abuse over; it's not a desperate act by a desperate manager trying to save a job. Yes, it's the most pitches in a game this season, but it was also Don Mattingly using his best weapon to try to close out a 2-0 victory. And Kershaw threw more than 18 pitches in only one inning -- 29 in the first. It's multiple big-pitch innings in a single game that some believe are potentially more problematic than the total number of pitches.
I get it that 130-pitch games aren't commonplace anymore. There were only four last season (two by Justin Verlander, one each by Johan Santana and Edinson Volquez) --- and, no, Santana didn't fall apart immediately after that game. You probably don't want to make 130-pitch starts a regular occurrence or stretch out a pitcher in a blowout game.
Kershaw was aware of the situation, saying that after that first inning his main focus was getting his pitch count back in line. Which he did.
In this day where 100 pitches are the norm, 110 pitches the sign of a workhorse and 120 pitches a Herculean effort, 130 pitches does seem scary. Maybe the Dodgers would be wise to give Kershaw a fifth day of rest before his next start, just to be as conservative as possible. Heck, Sandy Koufax had at least 64 starts of 130-plus pitches in his career, including a 205-pitch game in 1961. He went on to win five consecutive ERA titles and three Cy Young Awards after that season.
(Yes, and did have to retire at age 30.)
But one isn't the same as 64 and 132 isn't the same as 205.
Kershaw will be fine.
It's the rest of the Dodgers you should be worried about.