Los Angeles Dodgers: Can Clayton Kershaw win Cy Young no. 4?

Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Perhaps Los Angeles Dodgers ace, Clayton Kershaw, could add another trophy to the mantle.

Clayton Kershaw is the greatest left-handed pitcher of our generation, period. What he has already accomplished in his career for the Los Angeles Dodgers is absolutely remarkable and has already built his Hall of Fame case.

Because of everything that he has accomplished and all of the pitching miles on his body, it feels to many that Kershaw is an old soul. Many would be surprised that he is only two months older than back-to-back National League Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom.

But the ship has sailed, right? Kershaw is still a great pitcher, one that is all-star-caliber, but he is on his way down from his peak, right? A fourth Cy Young trophy is out of the realm of possibility, right?

His first start of 2020 might indicate otherwise.

Clayton Kershaw was *really* good for the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first start of 2020.

It is absolutely absurd to try and project an entire season off of one start and assume that the pitcher that showed up in the first start is going to be the pitcher that shows up all season. However, that first start can still be really telling for certain pitchers, and for Clayton Kershaw, it was.

Kershaw threw five and two-third scoreless innings with six strikeouts and only three hits allowed. He took a no-hitter into the fourth inning, where a weak groundball off the bat of Starling Marte beat the shift.

Kershaw, most importantly, was inducing soft contact all game. While it is an absurdly small sample size, the average exit velocity off of Kershaw in his first start was 84.4 MPH. That is reminiscent of the mid-2010s when he was among the top of the league in average exit velocity.

He also allowed just 21.4 percent of contact to be hard hit. Again, it is one start and we cannot jump to conclusions from five and two-thirds innings, but these are promising signs for a pitcher of Kershaw’s stature.

The reason it is easy to be excited is because of the velocity that Kershaw saw on his fastball. Kershaw’s fastball was popping in this first start of the season, which is really promising after he missed his first start with a stiff back.

Kershaw did not dip below 90 MPH and averaged 92 MPH on his fastball in the start, which would be his highest since 2017. He located it tremendously and his breaking stuff looked like 2014 Clayton Kershaw breaking stuff.


Now let’s answer the initial question: Can Clayton Kershaw win Cy Young no. 4?

The answer is yes.

If there is ever going to be a season that Kershaw regains some of his old form it is going to be this season. Think about it: the workload on Kershaw is the lowest it has been in quite some time and he got some much-needed rest.

Pitching in the postseason, and doing so for seven consecutive seasons, is taxing on your body. It is even more taxing when you have to turn around and pitch again just five months later. For the first time in the last several years, Kershaw finally got a break.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were knocked out of the NLDS and Kershaw did not have to make the extra 4-5 starts that he would have if the team made another World Series march. Thats another 20-35 innings on his resume.

Kershaw, and the rest of the league, also got some extra rest as well. Kershaw got an extra three months of rest because of the season’s postponement. We have every reason to believe that this is the freshest Clayton Kershaw that we have seen since 2013.

Will he regain the MVP-winning form that he had six years ago? Probably not. But this is still an all-time pitcher that was really consistent last season and still nearly finished with below a 3.00 ERA.

In a 60-game sprint where Kershaw is going to start 9-10 games and is the most rested he has been in quite some time, I really like his chances to look like the vintage version of himself and shock the world.

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Clayton Kershaw is by no means the favorite to win the National League Cy Young, but I absolutely think that he should be on the Cy Young radar.