Play It Forward April 20-26: A Kershaw-Bumgarner matchup as good as it can get

iTHIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

MLB: DODGERS at SAN FRANCISCO:
Details/TV: Tuesday-Thursday, SportsNet L.A.:
bum-kershawAs fate and rotations seem to have it, defending NY Cy Young and MVP Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to match up against World Series MVP and ’14 NL Cy Young runner-up Madison Bumgarner as the star attractions for the middle day of this three game series. As numbers align, the 27-year-old Kershaw is also seeking his 100th career win in his 213th career start – compared to just 50 losses. Of all the teams he has beaten over the years, the Giants have been victims 14 times (one back of Colorado, whom he used to grind his first win of the 2015 season in his last start) and he was 3-0 against the NL wildcard-turned-World Series-champs during the regular season with a 1.69 ERA. Bumgarner, who doesn’t turn 26 until August, has a modest 1-1 record so far – matching Kershaw – with an ugly 5.29 ERA. The Padres tore him up for five runs and 10 hits in three innings on April 11 in a 10-2 loss. They have matched up before — the Baseball Prospectus broke down that first meeting in 2012. Bumgarner also beat Kershaw in a 2013 matchup. There are plenty of debates about which left-hander is more valuable. During the 2014 spring training, the thought of how a long-term Kershaw-Bumgarner rivalry could perhaps match the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird career arch as they continue to battle each other year after year. “It could happen,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told MLB.com reporter Lyle Spencer. “They could be facing each other quite a bit down the road. You look at Clayton Kershaw, everything he’s accomplished, and Madison … one of the elite left-handers in the game. Hopefully, that is the case. You have one guy who sets a bar that high, you want to say you’re in that class.” Replied Bumgarner when asked about comparing himself to the Dodgers’ ace: “I don’t need Kershaw to want to be a better pitcher.” Fastballs often speak louder than words.
Six of the Dodgers’ next nine games are Giants, some of whom you may not recognize any longer from a year ago. The Giants have stumbled miserably out of the gate for the 2015 season, already five back of the first-place Dodgers to start last weekend, and finally ending an eight-game losing streak.
Games Tuesday and Wednesday are at 7:15 p.m., Thursday is at 12:45 p.m.

ALSO THIS WEEK:

The Clippers stay at Staples Center for Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against San Antonio (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, TNT) before going to Texas for Game 3 (Friday, 6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, ESPN) and Game 4 (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7) … Meb Keflezighi defends his Boston Marathon victory at the 119th edition of the race on Monday (5:30 a.m., Universal Sports) … UCLA has its spring football game at the Rose Bowl (Saturday, 10 a.m., Pac-12 Network) … The Galaxy heads to the New York Red Bulls (Sunday, 2 p.m., ESPN2) … The Ducks take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference quarterfinals to Winnipeg for Game 3 (Monday, 6 p.m., Prime Ticket) and Game 4 (Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. FSW), with Game 5 back in Anaheim if needed (Friday, Channel 13) … The Angels play four against Oakland (Monday-Thursday) and three against Texas (Friday-Sunday) at Angel Stadium …. More info at this link.

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