Clayton Kershaw is the kind of pitcher who can win two National League Cy Young awards in three years for one of the most glamorous teams in baseball and still go a little underappreciated. Maybe it's because so much of the country sleeps through so many of his starts; maybe it's because he's not the most exciting guy off the field; maybe it's because he hasn't yet had a really defining playoff start. Whatever the case, a game like last night's no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies—at least arguably the most dominant ever thrown—can remind you that he's already a historically great pitcher.
The best thing to do, if you missed the game, would be to check out the highlights, especially since Vin Scully called it. The next-best thing to do would be to look at the charts below, generated with Brooks Baseball's PitchF/X tools. They're pretty stupefying.
This chart just tracks Kershaw's velocity through the game. As you'll note, he was actually throwing his fastball a little bit harder in the ninth inning than he was in the first; he was also ticking up near 90 mph with his slider at points, which doesn't exactly seem fair.
Here you see the horizontal movement on Kershaw's pitches through the game. (A positive value here means it was moving in on a left-handed hitter.) For the ball to actually have been moving a little more as the night wore on as he sustained if not increased his velocity seems, again, unfair. Also, check out the narrow range on his fastball in the ninth! That is a man in control of what he's doing.
Just as a measure of his consistency, here are the vertical release points for all of Kershaw's pitches, plotted against their velocity. Save for one lonely ninth inning slider, they all came from more or less the exact same spot. For a point of comparison, this is what Josh Beckett did in his recent no-hitter.
Finally, here's a pretty straightforward depiction of what Kershaw was up to through the game. At some points he was throwing more fastballs, and at some more breaking pitches, basically tracking with how threatening the batters he was facing were. By the ninth, though, he was essentially just daring people to hit it.
Kershaw may not be the most exciting player in baseball off the field. He really doesn't have to be.
Photo via Getty