Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It wasn't that long ago, June 1 to be exact, that many fantasy owners were wondering whether they had paid too high a price for Los Angeles Dodgers ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
After all, he was just 3-2 on the season with a 3.57 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and was wasting the season away on the injured list. He not pitched in a month due to strained teres major muscle in his back.
Kershaw had cost fantasy owners a first-round pick back in March, No. 5 according to Yahoo! ADP, and his owners were getting frustrated.
I know this for a fact as more than one owner came to me at that time offering the two-time Cy Young Award winner to me in various leagues.
Though the ERA and WHIP were the highest they had been in years, the numbers were deceptive. The injury notwithstanding, Kershaw has only posted one bad outing. It was a whopper though, yielding six hits and seven earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings pitched.
But his other five starts had all been quality starts and he was striking out batters at a solid clip (11.7/9).
Of course we all know what has happened since he returned to the mound. Fantasy owners who withstood the temptation to trade him away and those who made the deal for him have been rewarded ... handsomely.
In Kershaw's last seven starts, he's yielded a total of four runs for a minuscule ERA of 0.69 with an equally impressive WHIP of 0.634 and 69 strikeouts in 52 innings pitched.
It includes a 15-strikeout, no-hitter of the Colorado Rockies that easily could have been a perfect game (Hanley Ramirez error).
It also includes a shutout streak that has reached 36 innings and is still going after Friday's eight-inning, two-hit, zero-run effort.
It's the third longest such streak in Dodgers history. That's even more impressive when you consider No. 1 (Orel Hershiser - 59) and No. 2 (Don Drysdale - 58 2/3) are also the longest shutout streaks in major league baseball history.
"Anytime he takes the mound, he's capable of the run he's been on," said his catcher A.J. Ellis.
"You don't ever want to give up a run, Kershaw said. "I guess that's the goal.
Well, that's your goal Mr Kershaw. Most pitchers just want to win ball games for their team.
But when you are pitching at the level Kershaw is currently at, that's simply not enough.
Few pitchers every get to that level.
Some may be able to get close for a short time, like the 1978 season put together by Yankees left-hander Ron Guidry (25-3, 1.74 ERA, 0.946 WHIP, nine shutouts).
In the last 50 years, however, you can probably only add Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and maybe Greg Maddux to the list of guys who have thought over their entire careers the way Kershaw thinks.
It's a short list, a very short list.
Fantasy owners who have Kershaw on their roster are getting to enjoy a rare feat and they shouldn't gloss over what he's done and is doing.