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MLB

Clayton Kershaw All-Time Dodger Strikeout King

Of all the great pitchers that have worn Dodger blue, Clayton Kershaw now stands alone at the top of the pile with a record-setting strikeout total.

Jeffrey May
Update:
Of all the great pitchers that have worn Dodger blue, Clayton Kershaw now stands alone at the top of the pile with a record-setting strikeout total.
Katelyn MulcahyAFP

The Los Angeles Dodgers knew that they had something special in Clayton Kershaw before Saturday. It is only just over two weeks since the Dodger Nation let out a collective groan at his being pulled after seven perfect innings. His elbow troubles of 2021 seem to have been taken care of and he has looked to be in great, if not exactly top, form.

Coming into the home stand against the Detroit Tigers, the three-time Cy Young winner had recorded 2,693 strikeouts wearing Dodger blue. As the hitters fell, he crept closer to the franchise record of 2,696 strikeouts, held by Don Sutton since 1988. When Dustin Garneau missed a curve in the third inning, the crowd gave gave Kershaw a standing ovation. It took Sutton 550 appearances for the Dodgers to reach the milestone. Kershaw accomplished it in only 383.

Spencer Torkelson couldn’t connect with an 0-2 slider in the fourth inning, leaving Kershaw to stand alone atop the Dodgers strikeout heap. Pitching six innings in total, and surrendering only one run, Kershaw finished the night with seven strikeouts, bringing his career total to an even 2,700. Only 25 pitchers have reached that mark in MLB history.

Kershaw was humbled by the fan response to his achievement. “The Dodgers are a historic franchise and have been around a long time, so the guys that are on that list that I was fortunate enough to pass was a big deal. But I didn’t know that fans would know or honestly care that much.”

In reference to the standing ovation given to him, which saw him step off the mound and tip his hat to the crowd, he added, “It was special for me. It really was. It was cool to see. I tried to brush it off and keep going, but they wouldn’t let me. It definitely meant a lot.”

Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts seems to be pleased that Kershaw was able to enjoy the moment. “This was a special moment, obviously, for him, but the fans have been on this journey with him, too. I like the way that he really understood that.”

In the all-time career strikeouts list, Kershaw sits in 26th place, but still has a long way to go before reaching the almost-unfathomable 5,714 strikeouts recorded by Nolan Ryan. The Express recorded those over three different teams, however. Kershaw has only ever played for the Dodgers. All of his K’s have been recorded in the blue and white.

The top five places in the strikeout-leader list of Dodgers talent is:

  1. Clayton Kershaw 2,700
  2. Don Sutton 2,696
  3. Don Drysdale 2,486
  4. Sandy Koufax 2,396
  5. Dazzy Vance 1,918

The other four members of this list are all in the Hall of Fame. Kershaw is almost guaranteed to be there, too. But don’t look for him to try and hang around to get more numbers.

“I don’t wanna just pitch to pitch,” says Kershaw. “That’s not a goal of mine, to stick around. I don’t have any interest in just sticking around to be around. I wanna be here to contribute to a team that might win a World Series. That’s what I wanna do. If either of those things aren’t around, I don’t see myself sticking around. If I’m not helpful, I won’t be here. I’m glad that I’ve had a good start to the season, but I have a long way to go.”

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