Padres @ Dodgers July 10, 2014: The Odds of a Clayton Kershaw No-Hitter

Clayton Kershaw is carrying a 36 inning scoreless streak into tonight’s game against the San Diego Padres, and he couldn’t pick a better opponent to try to make it better. The Padres are hitting .216/.276/.338 as a team. Against left-handed pitchers, they’re hitting .203/.279/.322. That’s a 73 wRC+, equivalent to that of DJ LeMahieu and Adeiny Hechavarria.

Padres
Dodgers
7:10pm PT
Los Angeles, CA
RF
Denorfia
2B
Gordon
3B
Headley
SS
Ramirez
LF
Quentin
RF
Puig
1B
Medica
1B
Gonzalez
C
Grandal
LF
Kemp
2B
Conrad
CF
Van Slyke
CF
Maybin
3B
Uribe
SS
Amarista
C
Ellis
P
Despaigne (R)
P
Kershaw (L)

Just for fun, we can calculate the rough odds of a no-hitter or perfect game tonight, since if there’s any team a pitcher can do that against, it’s the 2014 San Diego Padres. A league-average lefty pitcher would have approximately a (1-.279)^27 chance of throwing a perfect game against the Padres (on average), which equates to a 1-in-6851 chance. A no-hitter has better odds since the batting average is much lower than the OBP; the odds improve to 1-in-478.

Again, that’s with a league-average pitcher, and Clayton Kershaw is not that. Clayton Kershaw has held batters to a .203/.253/.300 line since the start of 2011, compared to an NL average batting line of .252/.317/.385. Assuming that the Padres scale to Kershaw’s pitching the same way a league-average hitter does, the odds of a perfect game rise to 1-in-908 and the odds of a no-hitter rise to 1-in-124. A 0.8% chance of a no-hitter is staggeringly high on any given night, and that’s before factoring in any changes Kershaw may have made this season to get even better.

The conclusion, I suppose, is that the Padres are really bad at hitting, which you already knew. The math is quick and dirty and has more than a few issues (doesn’t include just tonight’s lineup, doesn’t park adjust, doesn’t use projections), but to come up with an answer that favorable to history is pretty astounding.

Facing Kershaw tonight is Odrisamer Despaigne. Despaigne has made three starts at the major league level and has allowed two runs, which is good for a 0.92 ERA in 19-2/3 innings. That’s where the good numbers stop. His BABIP is .169. He’s only struck out five batters in those starts while walking eight, which results in a 0.63 K:BB ratio. His FIP is 4.49 and his xFIP is 4.93. Despaigne didn’t have any trouble missing bats in the minors, so the strikeouts will probably come. But if he pitches like he did in his first three starts, the runs will eventually catch up to him.

As expected, Carl Crawford was activated from the disabled list and is not starting. Clint Robinson was designated for assignment to make room. Robinson will most likely clear waivers and stay with the organization. Crawford had this to say about being on the bench:

There was one other curious lineup decision linked to the outfield shuffle and unrelated to Crawford sitting: Scott Van Slyke is starting against Despaigne, who is right-handed. The Dodgers aren’t facing another left-handed starter until after the all-star break, so this move is probably designed to get Van Slyke some extra playing time and not related to an injury or something along those lines.

Chone Figgins is getting closer to a rehab stint. His “quad strain” which was listed when he was sent to the disabled list is apparently a hip flexor injury. I’m not sure how that happens. The team still has not named a starter for Saturday’s game (in place of the injured Josh Beckett). Red Patterson still seems like the most likely choice.

Kenley Jansen has thrown eight pitches in July. Don’t be surprised to see him tonight even in a non-save situation.

ThrowsRelieverSat 10/15Sun 10/16Mon 10/17Tue 10/18Wed 10/19Thur 10/20Fri 10/21
LAvilan--OFF-2421OFF
RBaez34-OFF-2727OFF
RBlanton28-OFF13-19OFF
LDayton3-OFF16-12OFF
RFields--OFF-910OFF
RJansen-18OFF21--OFF
RStripling10-OFF-2018OFF
LWood--OFF-32-OFF

About Daniel Brim

Daniel Brim

Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn’t live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.