Dodger left-hander Clayton Kershaw was coming off another strong season, in which he finished second in the National League Cy Young vote in 2012 and headed into 2013 as the team’s ace. He led the NL in ERA the past two seasons and was looking to build on his strong season.
Regular Season Grade: A+
Kershaw had one of the most dominant seasons by a starting pitcher in the past decade. He finished 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA and 232 strikeouts in 33 starts. His record was more of a product of poor run support, rather than his pitching. The left-hander led the league in ERA, strikeouts, shutouts and WHIP en route to his second career NL Cy Young award. Kershaw was an All-Star and finished seventh in the NL MVP vote.
The 25-year-old went at least six innings in 29 of his 33 starts and finished with a career-high 236 innings. He had 10 starts where he didn’t allow a single run and only allowed more than three runs three different times. Kershaw provided the consistency the Dodgers needed early in the season and maintained that throughout the year.
Kershaw’s greatest game arguably was the first one of the season against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants. He threw a complete game shutout, giving up just four hits and striking out seven. His biggest contribution didn’t come on the mound, though. Kershaw came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning and promptly hit the first pitch he saw over the center field wall to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. The team would end up scoring more in the inning and won the game 4-0.
Playoff Grade: B
While Kershaw continued to dominate in the postseason, Dodger fans may remember his final start more then his first three. In Game 6 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, Kershaw gave up seven runs and 10 hits in just four innings of work to allow the Cardinals to cruise to a series-clinching victory. It was the left-hander’s worst start of the season and just happened to come at a crucial time.
In his other three starts, Kershaw was 1-1 with a 0.47 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 19 innings. He started Game 1 of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves and went seven innings, while giving up just one run and striking out 12. Kershaw would then throw in Game 4 on three days’ rest and went six innings. He allowed two unearned runs but kept the Dodgers in the game that they would eventually win on a Juan Uribe home run. His start in Game 2 of the NLCS saw him lose due to lack of run support, as he gave up an unearned run in six innings of work, but the Dodgers would lose 1-0.
Overall Grade: A+
Despite his Game 6 start, Kershaw was the team’s best player this season and led the Dodgers to that game in the NLCS. He continues to make his case for the best pitcher in baseball right now and will likely win a few more Cy Young awards before his career is over.
The Dodgers will try to agree to an extension with Kershaw that will keep him with the team for the significant future, giving them their ace and leader for a while.
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