Clayton Kershaw secured the 200th win of his career Tuesday night against the New York Mets and it was an absolute masterclass from the left-handed pitcher. Kershaw spun seven scoreless innings, throwing over 100 pitches in the process, with nine strikeouts and only three hits allowed.
There is no question LA fans love and appreciate Kershaw, as he's the best player of this generation and arguably the greatest Dodger of all time. He has been the one constant during this decade-long run and put together one of the best prime stretches in MLB history.
Kershaw is no longer in that prime stretch, however, which has caused him become undervalued by the rest of the league and baseball fans in the process. Kershaw might not be a Cy Young finalist anymore (hey, maybe this year!), but when you compare him to his peers, it's staggering how much he's earning and how he's perceived.
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Granted, Kershaw doesn't have much leverage when he himself has admitted there are only two teams he would play for at this point in his career (Dodgers and Texas Rangers), so it is not like his free-agent market has been bustling the last few years.
Because of that, Kershaw keeps signing one-year deals with the Dodgers that come in at a reasonable price. In 2023, the future Hall of Famer is making $20 million. That's pennies compared to what other veteran starters in the league are making.
Justin Verlander signed a two-year deal that pays him $43.3 million per year this past offseason. The year before that, Max Scherzer signed a three-year deal that also pays him $43.3 million. Both guys are older than Kershaw and, while they still pitched well before their deals, are much more of a threat to regress.
Perhaps the most egregious contract handed out in comparison was the one the Rangers gave Jacob deGrom, who hasn't thrown 100 innings in a season since 2019. He signed a five-year, $185 million contract with Texas this winter.
Ask any MLB fan on the street and they would tell you that deGrom is several years younger than Kershaw. That seems to be the perception as Kershaw has been in the league much longer than deGrom. That's not the case at all, though. Kershaw is exactly three months older than deGrom. Three. Months.
For some reason, the deGroms, Verlanders and Scherzers of the world continued to get praised while Kershaw somehow falls under the radar. Kershaw finished the 2022 season with a 2.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and an ERA+ of 182. Sure, he only pitched 126.1 innings, but he had a better ERA+ than Scherzer and Verlander last season — the latter of whom won the American League Cy Young.
And yet again, Kershaw remains the elite constant that these other pitchers strive towards. The Dodgers legend has a 2.52 ERA through four starts this season with a National League-leading 25 innings pitched.
Scherzer sports a 4.41 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched. deGrom has a 3.48 ERA in 20.2 innings pitched. Verlander has not even pitched yet and noticeably struggled with his control in spring training. So tell us, who's the best of this generation?