Dodgers: Five Bold Predictions for the 2018 Season

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 24: Logan Forsythe
SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 24: Logan Forsythe /
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Clayton Kershaw does not win the NL ERA title

Among the accomplishment’s during Clayton Kershaw’s Hall of Fame career, the most impressive is his ability to prevent the opposition from scoring. He has five NL ERA titles, four of them were in a row from 2011-2014 which were all MLB ERA titles.

If he had pitched 13 more innings in 20116, those numbers would be six and five, respectively. Last year, Corey Kluber beat him out by .06 runs. But a strong argument can be made that if Kersh had stayed healthy, he would have made up that difference.

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And this year, he is once again a virtual lock for, at least, the NL ERA crown. But it will not be happening. Yes, that is truly going out on a limb. But he cannot always win them, can he? He is the owner of the lowest ERA for pitchers with at least 1,900 innings, since…..a long time.

First, he will have to battle health. His back has robbed him of two Cy Youngs the last two seasons, and there is no guarantee that he will be healthy in 2018. He did pitch just 149 innings in 2016.

Next, the National League is littered with studs. Anyone from Max Scherzer to Stephen Strasburg to a healthy Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom can win it. They are that good. Heck, even Kyle Hendricks can win it, seeing that he has won it already. You also have Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke around.

While it is highly unlikely that they come even close, they did surprise all of us in 2015 and set two all-time low ERAs. Remember, this is the MLB, and virtually anything can happen. A 38-year-old knuckleballing R.A. Dickey won a CY young for crying out loud.

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You also have to take into account the fact that Kershaw is now 30, and with a bad back, he may not be the same guy he was even two seasons ago. 90% of Kershaw is still better than 99% of pitchers, but a dropoff may be in store. And like the earlier question, he can’t win them all, can he?