Clayton Kershaw isn’t taking the mound Sunday looking to keep a scoreless innings streak alive or wrap up any sort of award, but the outing does carry some historical value.
Kershaw will take the mound with an 18-3 record (.857 winning percentage) and should he earn a win Sunday, he would move into a tie with Orel Hershiser for the highest single-season winning percentage among qualified pitchers. Hershiser finished the 1985 season with a 19-3 record — a .864 winning percentage — that is a Los Angeles Dodgers franchise record.
Hershiser discussed the value of a win and how it’s a shared statistic between the pitcher and team, via J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News:
I think (wins and losses) are important,” said Hershiser, who is now a Dodgers television analyst. “I think they do relate to your team, but they do also relate to the pitcher. They don’t specifically relate to the pitcher, or specifically relate to the team, but there’s a combination of weighting depending on the game that particular day.”
While Hershiser gave some credit to the pitcher, Kershaw deflected the praise and said a pitcher’s record is very much about the team:
The win-loss record, it’s such a team thing. It’s a product of how good your team is.”
How much credit Kershaw wants to accept for his record is certainly his prerogative. However, what can’t be denied is the southpaw has pitched at level of his own for much of the season. Among several other statistics, Kershaw leads the Majors in ERA, WHIP and is tied for the lead in wins.
This is all with him missing five weeks of the season due to inflammation in the back of his left shoulder. Kershaw appears to be on his way to an unprecedented third Cy Young Award in four seasons and given Giancarlo Stanton’s injury, may now be the frontrunner for National League MVP.
After Sunday, Kershaw is scheduled for two more starts without accounting for a potential Wild Card game. Should the Dodger ace pick up at least one more win without suffering a loss, he would set a new Dodgers record for single-season winning percentage.
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