In 2013 Clayton Kershaw finished with a pedestrian 16-9 record. However, as the stats landscape has transcended, wins and losses don’t carry as much weight as they previously did.
That same season, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace led the Majors in ERA, ERA+, shutouts, strikeouts, and WHIP. Kershaw’s performance was enough to earn him a second Cy Young Award in three years, though the season ended in disappointment as he started Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS, which wound up as the Dodgers’ elimination loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
After missing the first month of 2014, Kershaw was as dominant as any pitcher in recent memory, save for one slip up against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He finished the season with a fourth-straight ERA title, becoming the first pitcher to do so, again led the Majors in several key categories, and won a third-career Cy Young Award and his first NL MVP Award.
However, Kershaw was once more unable to solve the Cardinals in the postseason, which added more fuel to the notion he’s unable to replicate his regular-season performances in October. While Kershaw’s list of awards and accomplishments are noteworthy, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt believes he’s driven by much more, according to Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider:
He has all the awards that he won, but to him it’s still not winning and getting to the World Series and winning the World Series. And that’s going to drive him to help our team and himself to get to that point. He’s that type of individual that that’s all that’s going to satisfy him. Obviously he gets to enjoy these accolades, but he understands this game is built around winning championships. He’s driven to be the best he can be every year, and he’s proven that.”
Although he’s seemingly managed to do so the last four years, it’s difficult to fathom Kershaw having a better regular season in 2015 than the one he just put forth. That being said, his talent and work ethic should lend to another great year; granted it may not be of the same historic dominance as 2014.
While the regular season plays an obvious role in affecting a team’s postseason aspirations, the early and middle months of 2015 will largely be viewed as a primer for Kershaw and the Dodgers until the calendar hits October.
Dodgers Introduce Jimmy Rollins — Part 2