Dodgers: Is Clayton Kershaw Turning Into the Classic “What If” Case?
The Dodgers already have one hall of famer whose career was ended early due to injury in Sandy Koufax. Is Clayton Kershaw heading down the same path?
Clayton Kershaw is already a sure fire hall of famer. He is arguably the best pitcher in Dodgers history, a former National League MVP award winner, and a three-time NL Cy Young award winner. Despite all his accomplishments, the way that Kershaw’s career has turned the past few seasons, he is starting to turn into one of the classic “what if he stayed healthy” type cases.
Clayton’s back injuries have already cost him one if not two Cy Young awards. The 2016 NL Cy Young award was a lock for Kershaw if only he had pitched enough innings to be eligible for the award. Clayton posted a 1.69 ERA and a ridiculous 0.72 WHIP while the award winner Max Scherzer posted a 2.96 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. Kershaw’s ERA was more than a full run lower than Scherzer and his WHIP was significantly lower. While no one knows for sure what metrics the voters take into consideration the most, ERA and WHIP have been a big part of their factors prior to the infusion of advanced stats.
More from LA Dodgers News
- Kevin Kiermaier being ‘top target’ to replace Cody Bellinger is bad sign for Dodgers
- Giants laughably sign pitcher that Dodgers absolutely own
- Dave Roberts’ quote about Padres in NLDS should motivate Dodgers
- Former Astro seemingly takes uncalled for shot at Cody Bellinger after Cubs deal
- Dodgers’ 2023 lineup without Trea Turner isn’t as impressive as it should be
In 2017 Clayton once again beat Scherzer in ERA but he had four fewer starts than Max Scherzer and did not even break two hundred innings for the season. Scherzer was far and away the more dominant pitcher last season and even if Kershaw had been healthy then Clayton would have probably lost but it’s still fair to wonder what kind of stats Kershaw would have put up if he didn’t succumb to his lower back issues.
It’s fair to say Kershaw would have a fourth Cy Young award if his back injury never occurred in 2016 and he would have been right in the running for a fifth Cy Young award if his back did not give out on him last season. That does not even account for this season in which Clayton has missed time due to biceps tendonitis and now another lower back injury. It’s been clear that Kershaw had something going on health-wise this season as his velocity was around 87-88 miles per hour in his one start back from tendonitis. Prior to his first DL stint, Clayton tied a career high with six walks against the Marlins and did not seem right at all. Regardless of whether Kershaw comes back strong this season or not, his 2018 shot at the Cy Young award has long been over.
Shifting away from an awards perspective, the focus will soon turn to Clayton Kershaw’s long-term future. Clayton is only thirty years old but with his recent injury history and potential free agency, it’s safe to wonder what kind of contract Clayton would get if he did opt out. It’s even fair to wonder if Kershaw will ever be a dominant ace again.
Next: Max Muncy is a must start player for the Dodgers
If Kershaw’s velocity continues to be under ninety miles per hour when healthy, he will never be as dominant as he once was. At only thirty years old it’s also time to question how long Kershaw will play baseball. If his prime fastball is gone for good and his next few seasons continue to be injury plagued and subpar for Kershaw’s standards, he is a man who has plenty to do outside of the game of baseball. The next few months will be telling in what the future looks like for Clayton Kershaw, let’s just hope he stays healthy and reverts back to his dominant self, otherwise, we could be looking at another “what if he stayed healthy” scenario.