After earning his MLB-best 21st win of the 2014 season with an eight-inning, all-around performance against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 24 that coincided with the Los Angeles Dodgers repeating as National League West division champions, Clayton Kershaw was sitting on top of the baseball world.
Kershaw turned in one remarkable start after the other and on one evening at Chavez Ravine, he was as perfect as you can be without actually being perfect.
The best pitcher in the game put an emphatic finishing touch on a year that proved 2013 wasn’t yet his peak. Then 10 days later in Game 1 of the NL Division Series, Kershaw took the mound again for what was the beginning of the end to his memorable season.
By now, Kershaw’s shortcomings in the postseason against the St. Louis Cardinals have been touched on ad nauseum. He was dominant for long stretches in his two postseason starts, but was done in by two fateful innings — one apiece in Games 1 and 4.
Thursday officially marked the start of a new season for Kershaw, who is already chomping at the bit to atone for last October, according to ESPN’s Mark Saxon:
I think for me, you want to make up for everything that didn’t go well in October, but you can’t do that in April,” Kershaw said after reporting to Camelback Ranch on Thursday morning. “So, you’ve got to wait for it first.”
In terms of regular-season accolades, Kershaw has little to prove. He’s won three Cy Young Awards in the last four years, became the first pitcher in MLB history to lead the Majors in ERA four consecutive years, and is the reigning NL MVP.
Nonetheless, his competitive drive will fuel his focus for the next seven months and if the Dodgers are in position to reach the postseason, he’ll then be able to get to work on erasing the memories from October of 2013.
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