LA Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw 2020 Season Grade
By Sean Kaufman
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw deserves a high grade for his historic 2020.
He did it. Clayton Kershaw put the playoff haters to rest.
Not only in getting a ring, but delivering both times his number was called during the World Series, and overtaking Justin Verlander for the career postseason strikeout record (207) in Game 6.
Kershaw made the historically bad-for-a-playoff-team Brewers look exactly that, carving them up for eight three-hit innings in the Wild Card round. Of course, to get to the World Series you need to have a strong regular season, and Kershaw did just that. He certainly did his part navigating the Dodgers to championship status with a bounce-back season.
Even though Kershaw’s All-Star 2019 campaign would be a career year for most pitchers, his ERA surpassed the 3.00 mark for the first time since his rookie season. This season, however, was a return to form for the veteran lefty, as he posted a 2.16 ERA and .84 WHIP over 58.1 innings (10 starts), striking out 62 and compiling a 6-2 record. Kershaw finished ninth in Cy Young voting and was named second-team All-MLB.
Part of the reason for Kershaw’s resurgence was the return of some of his fastball velocity that he had lost the year prior.
Although not up to where it was earlier in his career, or even to league average, 91.6 gives Kershaw a little more margin of error than 90.3. Even with the slight velocity uptick, his pitching philosophy has gravitated more towards emphasizing breaking balls. Kershaw has always featured dominant breaking stuff, and he has been using it more and more since his velocity started going down, turning to the curveball and slider a whopping 58.7% this year. His impeccable control (3.6% walk rate in 2020) allows him to rely on his breaking pitches even when behind in the count, which is a major factor in his effectiveness, without elite velocity.
Clayton Kershaw 2020 Season Grade
2020, of course, was a big year for the Dodgers, but also for Clayton Kershaw specifically. He proved his effectiveness with his updated pitching philosophy, and showed that he can be trusted to win big games in the playoffs. Kershaw further cemented himself as both a Dodger and a baseball legend. A rating. Enough said.