The Smokies today will be facing the Chattanooga Lookouts, but this game is a little different from any other contest that the team has played this season. They will be facing who many consider to be the best pitcher in Major League Baseball, Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw has been hampered by injuries this season as he is recovering from lower back inflammation. He was placed on the disabled list on March 23rd for the first time in his career. He made a rehab outing for High-A Rancho Cucamonga on April 25 going five innings while striking out six allowing one earned run on two hits.
Kershaw was recently honored as the 2013 National League Cy Young Award, his second (his first was in 2011) of his career. Last year he put a 16-9 mark with an 1.83 ERA (44 ER/236.0 IP) in 33 starts and recorded 232 strikeouts. His 1.83 ERA and 232 fanned batters led the entire Major Leagues. He also signed a seven year, $215 million dollar contract this offseason making it the richest ever for a pitcher. Kershaw’s accolades, along with his Cy Young Awards, include winning the pitching Triple Crown in 2011 (21 wins, 2.28 ERA, 248 strikeouts), 2011 Gold Glove winner, and was named the Roberto Clemente Award in 2012, which is an award given to the player in Major League Baseball who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual’s contribution to his team”.
Kershaw pitched in the Southern League with the Jacksonville Suns, who at the time were the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, in 2007 and 2008. He posted a 3-5 record with a 2.41 ERA (23 ER/86.0 IP) in 18 appearances, 16 of those were starts. He faced the Smokies two times in 2008 where he had a 0-1 record and 1.54 ERA (2 ER/11.2 IP)
The Smokies are scheduled to give the nod to right-hander Ivan Pineyro (0-2, 1.74) to oppose the Major League rehabber in the series opening contest on Wednesday evening, with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ET. The game can be heard on the Smokies’ flagship station 99.1 FM The Sports Animal, in addition to online at www.smokiesbaseball.com, as well as via the Smokies’ app. So make a trip down to Chattanooga to see an extraordinary opportunity of the Smokies facing off against a two-time Cy Young winner.