Clayton Kershaw is arguably one of, if not the best pitcher of the last 10 years in all of Baseball, however recently he has struggled with injuries and father time. So what do the Dodgers do with the man many people call the 2nd coming of Sandy Koufax…?
THE GOOD KERSHAW
- Drafted 7th overall in the 2006 draft out of High School by the Los Angeles Dodgers
- MLB Debut: May 25th 2008 vs STL Cardinals ( 6.0IP 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K’s)
- Break out Year: Age 23 season 2011, 21-5 2.28 ERA 248 K’s 0.97 WHIP (BOLD) = Lead the league.
- CY Young awards: 3 (2011, 2013, 2014) 1/10 players in History with 3+ CY Youngs
- All Star Appearances: 7 (2011 – 2017) ⅓ active pitchers with 7+ All Stars
- ERA Titles: 5 (2011-2014, 2017) Current career ERA leader (2.37) Best ERA in a season (2014 1.77 ERA)
- MVP awards: 1 (2014) first pitcher to win NL MVP since 1968 (Bob Gibson)
2014 stats: 21-3 1.77 ERA 6 CG 239 K’s 197 ERA+ 0.85 WHIP 10.8 SO/9
- Other Awards: 1 Gold Glove (2011), 3 NL TSN Pitcher of the Year (2011, 2013-2014), 1 Major League Player of the Year (2014), 1 Branch Ricky Award (2013), 1 Roberto Clemente Award (2012)
- Career Stats: 147-68 in 304 Games, 2.37 ERA, 25 CG, 15 SHO, 2004 IP, 2190 K’s, 1.003 WHIP, 161 ERA+, 9.8 SO/9, 4.21 SO/BB ratio
THE BAD KERSHAW
- Post Season Career: 7-7 4.35 ERA in 24 games
- Injuries: 2016 Herniated Disk in back (15-DAY DL), 2017 (Herniated Disk in Back (15-DAY DL), 2018 Bicep Tendinitious and Lower Back Tightness (2x 10-DAY DL)
- Decrease in Average Velocity: 94.3 MPH in 2015 — 91.9MPH in 2018
- HR/9 increasing over last 2 years: 2017 1.2 HR/9 (highest of Career), 2018 0.9 HR/9 t-2nd highest of career
- Contract: in 2014 he signed a 7 year 215 Million dollar deal with Opt-out clause after 5 years, deal pays him about $30,000,000 a year
So what does this all mean? Kershaw could opt out at the end of this year and test Free-agency. Every Team and their mother would salivate over the chance to try and pursue Kershaw. The Dodgers could also decide that they don’t want to have to go through free agency and realized if they haven’t won yet, maybe they never will and try to get back prospects for the future.
I would not trade him if I were Dodger management. Obviously I have a slight bias as a Dodger fan, but what your asking is the equivalent of trading Steph Curry because he didn’t make 200 three pointers in a season. Its crazy talk. Yes Kershaw has had his struggles in the postseason and has dealt with nagging injuries over the past few years, however, there is still no other pitcher (besides maybe Scherzer, Sale) that commands more respect, and instills more fear into batters than Clayton Kershaw.
What does need to happen though are some changes to the approach of facing hitters. It is a different game today than it was even 10 years ago when Clayton came into the league. Players are trying to hit the ball out of the park on every swing and they are starting to catch up more with his fastball and breaking pitches. I think after the season he needs to evaluate himself and figure out the type of pitcher he wants to be for the rest of his career.
His days of total domination might be closer to the end than the beginning, but it doesn’t mean Clayton cant still be an effective and dominant #1 pitcher. Someone that comes to mind for me is CC Sabathia. Both were dominant hard throwing Lefties with a whip out breaking pitch for the first half of his career. However, when Sabathia started to lose velocity and not be able to over [power hitters as much, his stats began to rise and he thought he might be out of baseball. Sabathia was able to make the adjustment 2 years ago and focus more on hitting spots and throwing smart pitches rather than trying to over power people. Kershaw is already great with location, but in recent years he has looked as if he is trying to get back to his overpowering self.
I’m sorry Clayton, I love you man, but you will never be the same pitcher you were 5 years ago, but you can still be great. Hitters are too good 1-9 for you to be trying to throw 91 MPH with no movement by them. Its not going to work. Your slider, curve, and change up should come more into play. You can use your off-speed pitches to throw hitters off then come behind them with a fastball when they are least expecting it. As a fan I want to see you spend the rest of your career here, but I want to see you finish as strong as you started.