In my opinion, the best pitcher on the face of this earth is, without a doubt, Clayton Kershaw. Most opposing hitters in the MLB would probably agree with that statement. Yet there’s something the Dodgers’ ace just can’t seem to figure out: how to win when it counts, how to win a World Series Championship. It’s arguably the only milestone Kershaw hasn’t reached yet in his career.
After his team’s loss in Game 7, a heavy-hearted Kershaw responded to reporters,
“Maybe one of these days I won’t fail, we won’t fail, and we’ll win one of these things.”
Since being drafted seventh overall by the Dodgers in the 2006 MLB Draft, Kershaw has built himself a tremendous baseball resume. He worked his way through the Dodgers’ farm system in just a single season, and debuted in the majors at 20 years old in 2008. At the time, he was the youngest player in the league. By 2011, he had already accomplished the pitching Triple Crown and also won the National League Cy Young Award becoming the youngest pitcher to do so in either of these major accomplishments since Dwight Gooden did so in 1985. Clayton then became the first pitcher in history to lead the league with the lowest ERA for four consecutive years, when he did so through the 2011 and 2014 seasons. He won the Cy Young Awards again in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, bringing his total to three. In his 2014 season, he also won the Most Valuable Player award. He is a 7-time All-Star. He’s thrown a no-hitter, as the only pitcher to ever throw a no-no with 15 K’s and 0 walks. The guy is a beast; the numbers show it, and there is no denying it.
But the numbers also show, and you also can’t deny, that his playoff numbers coming into this year were nowhere near the regular season numbers he has put up consistently. In 118 innings, the southpaw has gone 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA, not exactly a Kershawesque. And in Game 5 of the World Series, he returned to the mound looking to change that, but continued to scuffle, finishing his night giving up six earned runs, recording only two strikeouts, and giving up three walks in just under five innings of work. The series came down to a Game 7, and the Dodgers’ starter, Yu Darvish didn’t last long. Kershaw was called upon to pitch on short rest in the do-or-die game. Despite his postseason numbers or the 2 days rest, Kershaw delivered four scoreless innings when the Dodgers desperately needed it the most. In the end, his team came up short, and again, Kershaw finishes the season without a ring on his finger.
I’m not saying he’s not to blame, his performance in the fifth game of the series was poor, especially compared to his other performances. He was unable to control the damage, and gave up runs quick which led to an early exit in the new postseason style baseball that is being played. But this guy deserves a ring for the numbers he consistently puts up. He dominates lineups, astonishing hitters who have seen him for a number of years now but have yet to figure him out. Kershaw is the true definition of a workhorse, he is the true ace of this staff, and he is the best pitcher on his team, and quite possibly in the entire league. We hold him to a higher standard than maybe any other pitcher ever. But, he will never be considered the best without a championship to his name, the only accomplishment that truly matters. And that is a shame. I really hope he gets one before he can’t pitch anymore, this guy’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, for sure.