Dodgers: A Look At the Stats Projections for Clayton Kershaw in 2023
Baseball isn’t played on paper, but in the offseason, the “on-paper” projections are all we have. This is the latest installment in our series looking at the projections for key members of the 2023 Dodgers. We’ve done a handful of position players; now it’s time to take a look at Clayton Kershaw.
Here are the expected stat lines for Kershaw from three projection systems: RotoChamps, Steamer, and Marcels (in the format of IP ERA K BB WHIP).
RotoChamps: 124 2.98 136 23 0.980
Steamer: 172 3.51 180 38 1.160
Marcels: 136 3.11 141 31 1.066
Kershaw is a little tougher to project than Urias, partly because of health concerns and partly because of age. Mind you, that doesn’t mean Steamer did a better job projecting Urias, just that I’m more confident telling Steamer it’s wrong about Julio than about Kersh.
In the last 14 seasons, beginning when Kershaw was 21 years old, his highest ERA for a season is 3.55, and his overall ERA during that span is 2.40. Only in 2019 (3.03) and 2021 (3.55) has he even had an ERA over 3.00. But … 2019 and 2021 are two of the last four seasons, so it’s understandable that projection systems looking at recent performance might weigh those somewhat heavily.
The fact is, Kersh is a different pitcher than he was when he won three Cy Young Awards and the 2014 MVP. He’s worse, for sure, but not as much worse as you might expect considering the relative demise of his fastball. Kershaw’s 2.28 ERA and 0.942 WHIP in 2022 would fit in quite nicely with his peak seasons.
The funny thing is that Steamer is also projecting Kershaw to be remarkably healthy, slating him for more starts (29) than he’s had in a season since 2015. The Dodgers would surely love to get 172 innings from Kershaw, even if they were accompanied by a mediocre (by his standards) 3.51 ERA.
For me, Marcels feels about right. It’s hard to expect Kershaw to just keep dominating, but taking a slight step back to an ERA just over 3.00 feels like a decent compromise. But a repeat of 2022’s dominance (along with a repeat of 2022’s IL stints) wouldn’t surprise me at all.
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