Sorry, Matt Harvey and Adam Wainwright; despite your incredible seasons, it’s likely that the NL Cy Young award will pass you by in 2013 as long as Clayton Kershaw is around.
You know a team has it pretty good a starter can put up a 0.96/1.04 ERA/WHIP through 28 innings in August and still only be the second-best guy on the team (sorry to you too, Zack Greinke), but … well, if you couldn’t tell over the last couple of months already, the Los Angeles Dodgers have it pretty good these days.
None better than the year that their lefty ace is having, of course.
While Yasiel Puig has been stealing the spotlight for doing his thing since his arrival, it’s just been business as usual for Kershaw — and business is going pretty well. In fact, he might even be going towards his best season ever, and though he’s far from being in his own class in the NL this year, the lefty is still managing to pull away from the other two Cy Young contenders with every outing.
His latest victims were the Miami Marlins, who saw a Kershaw that was far from his best on Thursday … and one that still managed to pitch eight shutout innings on five hits and six strikeouts despite getting into trouble with walks early on in the game.
That kind of 103-pitch outing is just what the Dodgers are getting used to, though — when he’s on, the 25-year-old is unhittable; when he’s off … he’s still unhittable.
The win pushes him to 13 on the year, joining a group of pitchers that are just one behind Wainwright’s 14. But we’re not here to talk about wins or losses, of course. If that were the case, Harvey wouldn’t even be in the Cy Young discussion, and that’d just be silly, right?
Nah, the reason why Kershaw is leading the pack goes beyond that. Though the fWAR race suggests that differences between the trio are razor-thin (entering Thursday, Harvey led with 5.9 fWAR, while Wainwright and Kershaw were tied at 5.4), the Dodgers ace does hold a few distinct advantages.
Sure, he might not strike out as many batters as Harvey does, but Kershaw is more of a workhorse, and he leads the NL with 190.1 IP prior to his latest outing. Aside from being the most worked (thus affecting his team’s success more), he also led the NL with a .179 BAA (Wainwright’s .243 ought to take him out of the race here), and was still ahead of Harvey in WHIP by a slim 0.85-0.89 … though his latest turn will have bumped it.
What it didn’t bump, however, also happens to be the most important number for his Cy Young candidacy: his 1.72 ERA.
It might be just one bad outing away from getting close towards Harvey’s still-brilliant 2.25 (Wainwright has a 2.66 mark), but that Kershaw is the only starter in the league with a sub-2.00 ERA is one major feather to his cap that cannot be understated if he can keep it there for the rest of the season.
After all, it is ultimately a pitcher’s job to get outs and prevent runs — and no one in the game does it quite like Kershaw.