Clayton Kershaw has not only been the Los Angeles Dodgers most consistent pitcher over the last three years, he’s also made his mark as the best pitcher in baseball — despite his recent postseason struggles.
Last season, Kershaw won the Cy Young Award for the third time in the last four years, and the National League MVP to his growing list of awards. Despite missing one month of the season, Kershaw led the Majors in wins and ERA, among other categories.
The shine from Kershaw’s regular season was dimmed a bit as Madison Bumgarner led the San Francisco Giants to their third World Series in five years. Naturally, it led to debate as to which left-hander is the best in baseball.
ESPN surveyed executives and scouts asking which pitcher they would build their rotation around for the next five seasons. Kershaw was the overwhelming selection, receiving 12 votes to second-place Bumgarner, who received two votes.
In a recent poll, conducted by Athlon Sports, each of these reporters received five votes for who they would want starting game seven of the World Series:
Tyler Kepner, NY Times
Andy Baggarly, AndrewBaggarly.com
Jeff Wilson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
John Tomase, WEEI
Juan Rodriguez, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun Times
Bill Plunkett, Orange County Register
C. Trent Rosencrans, Cincinnati Enquirer
Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Jack Magruder, FoxSportsArizona.com
With a first place vote totaling five points, and a fifth place vote totaling one, Kershaw lead the pack with 38 points and four first place votes. Although he received more first place votes (five), Bumgarner was left off of two ballots and came in second place with 36 points.
In six postseason series over four years, Kershaw is 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 11 games (eight starts). Conversely, Bumgarner is 7-3 with a 2.14 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) over 10 series in three years.
Only the first four pitchers of Kershaw, Bumgarner, Felix Hernandez, and Adam Wainwright were included on more than three ballots. Jon Lester had the lowest total in the top-five, receiving seven points and appearing on two ballots.
Another Dodger, Zack Greinke was even included in the poll. The right-hander only received one vote, but the Dodgers were the only National League West team to have two pitchers make the poll.
While Kershaw hasn’t replicated his regular season success in the postseason, it’s more than evident he’s evoked confidence in his ability to right the ship.
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