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Dodgers: The Next 10 Years for Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler in the Dodgers' dugout during game one of the National League Divisional Series.
LOS ANGELES, CA- OCTOBER 5: Clayton Kershaw, left, along with Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers look on in the fourth inning of game one of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves] at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, October 4, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

The soon-to-be 31-year-old ace isn’t the same pitcher who was celebrating with Manny Ramirez and Chad Billingsley in their advancement to the NLCS 10 years ago. Now, Clayton Kershaw is being shutdown in Spring Training as reports cite the three-time Cy Young winner claimed he “didn’t feel right” after two bullpen sessions.

Speculation that Kershaw was opting out of his seven-year contract to pitch for his hometown Texas Rangers was put to bed when he signed a new contract with the Dodgers in the offseason.

At the end of the new contract, Kershaw would be entering his age 35 season. The hot stove has been rather cold for free agents, and even more so for players in that age range.

In the past 10 years, the left-hander has cemented himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball history. Kershaw’s signature 12-6 curveball and a slider that has hitters chasing it have added to his Hall of Fame resume.

But the resume that led to accolades doesn’t resemble the pitcher who took the mound 26 times last season, and isn’t showing signs of redemption early into Spring Training.


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The reality that Kershaw will be toeing the rubber in 10 years is unrealistic, but the possibility of him going into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot selection is likely.

2011 started the stretch where Kershaw led the league in starting pitching with a cumulative 2.11 ERA across four seasons. In that time, Kershaw won three Cy Young Awards, an MVP title and a Golden Glove award.

Since 2009, Kershaw is averaging 30 starts per season, despite lengthy stints where he wasn’t throwing at all. But unlike previous years, arrows are pointing towards Kershaw opening the season on the Injured List rather than on mound.

The decreased fastball velocity plagued his secondary pitches last season and the arm issues are an evident problem this season, already. His 12th season as a big leaguer is starting with a question mark, which hasn’t happened before.

According to baseball-reference.com predictions, Kershaw is estimated to throw 160 strikeouts this upcoming season; which will put him relatively 565 strikeouts away from joining the 3,000 strikeout club. Only 16 other pitchers have thrown at least 3,000 career strikeouts.


3,000 Strikeout Club

While the milestone isn’t necessarily out of reach, the slower velocity will make it harder to strikeout hitters, and it won’t help matters in the postseason where he already has a bad reputation.

But there is a chance Kershaw will bounce back from the bicep tendinitis and see a resurgence in his arsenal, like Rich Hill and Justin Verlander have when they recovered from injuries.

Kershaw was already named the Opening Day starter, but the Dodgers are in a good position with their eight other aces for someone else to take the helm. By shelving Kershaw from his ninth consecutive Opening Day start, it’ll be the first domino to fall for an aging ace who doesn’t have much velocity.

While the Dodgers have a farm system filled with potential aces, the emergence of Walker Buehler has already catapulted him to the front of the rotation. But the sight of a Dodgers rotation without Kershaw won’t be familiar.

His end as a Dodger is a matter of ‘when,’ not ‘if’ — and the newly signed contract provides a clearer idea of when that might happen.

Shorter outings with more runs given up in the next couple years is a far cry from the days Kershaw was throwing complete games and not walking a batter. But no longer in his prime with clear health issues, the new season marks the beginning of the end for Kershaw.

Written by Staff Writer

10 Comments

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  1. Good article Megan! I can live with a declining pitcher gradually being moved down the rotation or to the bullpen. But seeing him getting hurt all the time, that hurts! But at only 31 there’s still time for him to get right. As for Verlander? I’m not sure pitchers do what he’s doing at his age without “help”.

    • If you aren’t cheating you aren’t trying to win. Nice guys finish last. Kershaw needs to do what those Asstros pitchers do, steroids, and ball substances. He’ll never win a ring otherwise. Look at all the teams that win championships across all sports, they all cheat in one way or another

  2. But he was entitled for a nice raise when clearly he was earning more than enough. Now let’s hope he isn’t injured or worse useless.

    Could of used that money for other upgrades. I really doubted he would of opted out with his 2 choke years under his belt.

  3. If this is more than a “dead arm” issue then rest and rehab is what needed, so the decision should be made now to begin the season on the DL. This would allow CK to recover without having to rush for an opening day start. I would take a sharp Kershaw joining the club in June or July vs a pitcher that is struggling only to end up on the DL in June or July.

    • I’m leaning toward you CNB that perhaps Kershaw be placed on the IL(injured-list). I swear when I hear the pitcher has a “dead arm,” it is like a “four-letter word.” I’m already thinking that Seager will start the season on the IL and now Kershaw. Geez-Louise!! Whose next Turner, Pollock, two guys with injury concerns of their own.

      • And based on your prescient post, Robin, I hope the Dodgers will now consider adding a pitcher of Kluber’s caliber to the club as a stabilizing influence. Almost all of our starting pitchers were on the DL last year, and that includes Buehler, Ryu, Hill. etc. This is not good, nor does it speak well of the FO for trading Alex Wood in exchange for who – Homer Bailey. This may turn out to be a long season. Go Blue!!

        • Blue LOU, as I said on another page the the DL stints of this staff are real possibilities, as they took place last year, so should this be the beginning of these stints with CK, it may be a long season, who knows, but an extra experienced arm for the rotation, even if for only 1 or 2 years would certainly have been a great idea.

  4. I don’t get your title. Based on what you wrote, Kershaw doesn’t have nearly that long left. As a kid, I was crushed by Koufax’s forced retirement at age 30. If Kershaw can’t regain his former greatness, the curse on the Dodgers continues, and they cannot win a championship without K.

    • You continue to be delusional about this guy and for someone that grew up watching Koufax it’s rather shocking. Kershaw IS the curse, to say they can’t win without him when they’ve never won with him (in large part because of him btw) is Ludicrous. If Kershaw has a forced early retirement it will be shades of Koufax but without the titles to show for it. In other words a big huge waste

  5. I think it is time to leave a message. Dodger fan since 1963. So I saw Koufax. Kershaw is as good as Koufax was. 5 ERA titles. 3 Cy Youngs. MVP. 3 strikeout titles. Koufax had 1 more K title. And remember, Koufax had a 16″ mound. And he did not have the platoons, shifting, and analytics we have today. But-as with Kershaw-the best pitcher in baseball. And now we come to 2019. Kershaw has pitched in oodles more post season games than Koufax. And he has had terrible relief options behind him. They have allowed quite a few of his men left on base to score. And he has been kept in too long for the same reasons. So no- he does not “choke”. The 60’s Dodgers had Perranoski, Regan, Brewer, etc. In the pen. Plus Gold Gloves all over (Parker, Davis, Roseboro). Back to Kershaw- 1 more inning last year he would have been 4th in ERA. Not bad for a pitcher in “decline”. Look for him to have a good year. And I am one who believes he is going to get another Cy Young and another ERA title before it is over.

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