Player Name: Clayton Kershaw
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Position: Starting pitcher
Born: March 19, 1988 in Dallas, Texas.
Turned Pro: 2008
Kershaw attended Highland Park High School, where he established himself as an elite high school prospect in 2006 when he posted a 13–0 record with an ERA of 0.77, and recorded 139 strikeouts in 64 innings. In a playoff game against Justin Northwest High School, Kershaw pitched an all-strikeout perfect game. He was selected by USA Today as "High School Baseball Player of the Year", and was also the Gatorade National Player of the Year for baseball. Kershaw was also best friends with future Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford Entering the 2006 MLB Draft, Kershaw was considered the top high-schooler available. The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Kershaw with the 7th overall pick in the draft. He turned down a scholarship at Texas A&M to sign with the Dodgers, with a bonus estimated at $2.3 million.
Kershaw won his first major league game against the Washington Nationals on July 27, 2008. He pitched six-plus shutout innings, allowing four hits, a walk, and struck out five.Kershaw finished his rookie season 5-5, with a 4.26 ERA in 22 games (21 starts).In 2009, despite an 8–8 record, he led the major leagues in opposing batting average (.200), opposing slugging percentage (.282), and hits per nine innings (6.26). He also posted an ERA of 2.79 and 185 strikeouts.Kershaw made his playoff starting debut against the St. Louis Cardinals and Adam Wainwright in the 2009 National League Division Series. He went 6.2 IP, striking out 4, walking 1, and getting to no-decision (Dodgers went on to win the game in the 9th inning). At 21, Kershaw was the youngest starter to start a playoff game since Rick Ankiel did so in in 2000 at the age of 20.
He was selected to the National League squad for the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, his first all-star selection. In the month of July, Kershaw was 4ï¿½1 with a 2.02 ERA and NL leading 45 strikeouts, earning him the National League Pitcher of the Month Award. On August 19, Kershaw recorded his 15th win of a season, taking him above his previous high of 14 wins, in a 5ï¿½1 victory over the Brewers. On August 23, Kershaw stuck out Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals for his 200th strikeout of the season. He became the 10th Dodger pitcher to record back-to-back 200 strikeout seasons and the first since Chan-Ho Park in 2001. He also picked up his 16th win in that game, the most wins by a Dodger left-handed pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela won 21 in 1986.
Kershaw gained his 20th victory on September 20, 2011, defeating the San Francisco Giants 2–1. He became the first Dodgers pitcher to go 5–0 against the Giants in a season since Vic Lombardi in 1946, beating two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum four times. He also became the first Dodger to win 20 in a season since RamÓn Martínez in 1990.Kershaw was awarded the Warren Spahn Award as the best left-handed pitcher in 2011.
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