Daily Distractions: Is Clayton Kershaw in the midst of the best season ever by a Dodgers pitcher?

Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw didn’t allow a run in eight innings against the New York Yankees on Wednesday. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis gets the bigger picture of his existence as a Major League Baseball player. He doesn’t strike me as an over-the-top baseball historian like Curt Schilling, or a numbers guy like Brandon McCarthy, but he does catch Clayton Kershaw every fifth day. So he gets it.

“We’re spoiled, that’s all I can say, having him on our team and on our pitching staff,” Ellis said after the Dodgers’ 3-0 loss to the Yankees yesterday. “We’re teammates with somebody who’s really, really special.”

Some perspective on Kershaw: His 1.87 earned-run average is the lowest in baseball, and he has a chance to post the first sub-2.00 ERA by a Dodgers pitcher since Sandy Koufax in 1966. If the season ended today, Kershaw would qualify for the ERA title (he’s pitched 168 innings) and would own the third-lowest ERA in a single season in Dodgers history. In terms of ERA+, which accounts for how many runs are being scored around the league in a given year, Kershaw is in the midst of the best season by a pitcher in Dodgers history, a hair better than Koufax’s 1966 season.

But Ellis doesn’t need the numbers. He sees it all the time. “The fact that (Kershaw) can come out and reproduce what he does,” Ellis said, “is what makes him the best in the league.”

Onto the bullet points for a Colorado statehood day:
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Daily Distractions: Dodgers reportedly sign Brian Wilson to minor-league contract.

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson has appeared in two major-league games since the end of the 2011 season. (Getty Images)


According to multiple reports this morning, the Dodgers have signed former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson to a minor-league contract.

Wilson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2012, tried out for the New York Mets in January but was unimpressive. Pitchers who undergo Tommy John surgery typically need 12 to 18 months to fully recover, sometimes more, so it stands to reason that Wilson has improved considerably in the last six months. He tried out recently with representatives from several teams in attendance; conveniently for the Dodgers, Wilson lives in Southern California.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti was the Giants’ assistant general manager in 2003, when San Francisco took Wilson in the 23rd round of the June draft. Evidently Wilson bore some resemblance to his pre-Tommy John self at the recent tryout, beard and all.

As we reasoned yesterday, the Dodgers don’t really need to add a player with the non-waiver trade deadline about 24 hours away. They still might make a trade. But signing a pitcher who’s appeared in two games since the end of 2011 — to a minor-league deal, no less — isn’t the kind of impact move that contenders gear up for at the trade deadline, regardless of his reputation or facial hair. Wilson’s resumé includes more saves from 2008 to 2011 (163) than any pitcher in baseball.

Rather it’s a move that signals the Dodgers are looking ahead to the postseason. Wilson has 10 games of postseason experience, all with the Giants during their 2010 World Series run. That year, he saved six games in seven opportunities. Wilson would still have to be added to the Dodgers’ 40-man roster between now and October but, as was the case with Carlos Marmol, it makes sense for a contending team to stockpile former closers as Plans A, B and C should Kenley Jansen falter, or fall victim to illness (like last year) or injury.

The Dodgers have that luxury with Brandon League, Marmol and now Wilson.

Onto some bullet points:
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Daily Distractions: Yasiel Puig arrives again; Vin Scully tweets; Manny Ramirez returns?

Yasiel Puig Yankees

Yasiel Puig, left, went 4 for 10 in Wednesday’s doubleheader split against the Yankees. (AP photo)

What’s that old saying?

“There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it”?

Right. It’s commonly attributed to William James, the father of modern psychology.

There’s a newer saying, related to the first. One variation goes, “Nothing really puts a performer on the map like coming up big in New York.” Another contends, “a player hasn’t really proven what he can do until succeeding or failing under the bright lights of New York City.” Here’s one more: “the Bronx still provides the game’s greatest stage, and it is a place that helps make stars and bolster myths.” And when the New Yorker and Bleacher Report can agree on something, it must be true. Right?

If Yasiel Puig indeed thrived on a bigger stage Wednesday, the perception will be that he’s a bigger deal now than when he was belting pitches halfway to Eagle Rock as if he’d been playing in Dodger Stadium all his life. In reality, New York Yankees right-hander Adam Warren is the worst pitcher among Puig’s five home run victims (though the San Diego Padres’ Clayton Richard might object). His opposite-field home run in the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory bore no meaning on the outcome of the game, as did his 2-for-5 performance in the Dodgers’ 6-4 loss Wednesday morning.

But perception and reality don’t always line up. If you flipped to ESPN yesterday hoping to catch highlights of Lebron James and Tim Tebow, and saw Yasiel Puig go 4 for 10 against the Yankees, maybe your interest in baseball has been piqued by the ripped Cuban kid from L.A.

Consider the myth bolstered, the star made. Again.

Some bullet points for a Thursday morning:
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