Brandon Tierney is well-aware that sports talk radio is full of hyperbole. Take any athlete or athletic event, and you’re bound to find someone who will call it the “best this” or the “worst that.”
But when it comes to Clayton Kershaw, Tierney can’t help it. He genuinely believes that Kershaw is starting to position himself as the greatest pitcher of all time.
Is that off-base?
“I think you’re completely off-base – because I think he did that a year ago or two years ago,” MLB.com’s Richard Justice said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He would go to the Hall of Fame right now if he didn’t throw another pitch. You look at earned run average, durability, all that, Cy Young, ERA titles, strikeouts – all that. He thinks he’s at the midway point of his career. When he’s done, if he puts up anything close to this for the next half of his career, for the last half of his career, we’re going to be talking about him among the five to seven greatest pitchers of all time. I believe Sandy Koufax has said, ‘I had a good career. This guy’s better than I am.’ So I think we’re at the point with Clayton (where), when he comes to your town, you can take your kids to see him because you’re seeing one of the greatest there ever was.”
Kershaw, 29, is 141-62 in his career with a 2.35 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He’s also a seven-time All-Star, a three-time Cy Young winner, a four-time ERA champion, a three-time strikeout champion, a two-time wins champion, and a one-time MVP, which he won in 2014.
The guy is unreal – and shows no signs of slowing down.
“As he’s gotten older, he shows more and more competitive fire,” Justice said. “He has three weapons. Vin Scully calls his curve ball Public Enemy No. 1. He has a fast ball that he can move in and out, up and down, change speeds. He has a changeup that is a killer pitch, and then he has a curveball that is as good of a pitch as anybody has ever thrown in the game. When he goes out there with his A-game, you don’t have a chance.”
Kershaw has dominated this season, as usual. He is 15-2 with a 2.07 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP and has 166 strikeouts to just 23 walks.
“By the second time through the lineup, where you normally start to get a gauge of what the guy is, hitters are more confused than ever with Clayton,” Justice said. “And again, I can’t get past the fact that he burns to be great, and his work ethic and his daily routine – nobody gets in the way of what Clayton wants to do.”
About a month ago, there was talk that Max Scherzer had supplanted Kershaw as the best pitcher in baseball. Kershaw has made five starts since then – and allowed two earned runs.
“The lesson to that,” Justice said, “is don’t piss (Kershaw) off.”