Clayton Kershaw leads all pitchers with 18 wins, and his 1.67 ERA and 0.82 WHIP are also best in the Majors. The southpaw’s stats and performances this season have him in the discussion not only for a third Cy Young award in the last four years, but also for National League MVP.
Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers began the season in Australia with a two-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodger ace allowed one run in 6.2 innings and picked up a win to start the season.
The Dodgers then returned stateside with plans of sending Kershaw to the mound for their domestic opener. However, the lefty was instead placed on the disabled list and missed the next five weeks of the season.
As a result, Kershaw will finish the season with less than 30 starts for the first time since 2008. Manger Don Mattingly discussed some of the benefit that may have come with Kershaw missing time, via Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
Yeah, I do,” Mattingly said. “If you look back at the number of innings he pitched last season including the postseason (249) and the way he’s pitched this season, I’d be getting memos about his pace and what track he’s on and how do we save him some innings.
For his part, Kershaw isn’t necessarily subscribing to the theory being sidelined did him so good:
Yeah, I’ve heard that,” he said after winning his 18th game Monday night. “I don’t feel much different. I know with that month off everyone thinks I should feel better. But I don’t feel any different. I felt pretty good last September, too.”
Kershaw will likely make three more start in the regular season and would need to accumulate 22.2 innings in order to reach 200 on the season. Given his recent starts, Kershaw is nearly a lock for at least seven innings in each outing and will surpass the 200-inning mark, but won’t do so by much.
The left-hander was last under 230 innings for an entire season in 2010 when he threw 204.1. While he may not feel more rested, a lighter overall workload this season should bode well for Kershaw and the Dodgers in the postseason.
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