Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cy Young. MVP. No-hitter. There's just ONE last hurdle for Kershaw...

And he conquered it on Friday by signing an endorsement deal with Subway!

All kidding aside (though he really is a new Subway spokesman), Clayton Kershaw has done it all in the regular season by the young age of 26.  He claimed his third Cy Young Award in four years this past week.  A day later, he became the first NL pitcher to sweep the Cy Young and MVP awards since Bob Gibson in 1968.

He threw a no-hitter back in June with 15 strikeouts, and was a Hanley Ramirez throwing error away from it being a perfect game.  So yes, it was practically a perfect game.

There's also that cool little seven-year, $215 contract extension he inked after last season.

Now that the soon-to-be father has accomplished all of that already, we all know what his next goal will be.  The elephant in the room during all of this is the memories of a couple horrific seventh innings against the Cardinals in the NLDS, as the Dodgers fell in four games.

Simply put, here's his pitching splits between the regular season and playoffs:

Regular Season: 211 G, 98-49, 2.48 ERA, 1.06 WHIP
Postseason: 11 G, 1-5, 5.12 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

I think it's fair to point out that while Kershaw certainly wasn't at his best in his two playoff starts this year, and three dating back to his final start in the NLCS last season, it's not like he's gotten shelled in every single postseason start.  Last season, he had three very good starts before getting shelled in the final game against the Cardinals.  In 2009, he helped put the Dodgers up 2-0 on those same Cardinals in the NLDS with nearly seven innings of two-run ball.

The problem?  When he's lost, he's REALLY lost.  There's no hiding the fact that he's been absolutely shelled when he's been off.  We've seen what the Cardinals have done against him, and the also struggled against the Phillies in the NLCS back in 2009.

I remember hearing Jim Kelly saying that if the Bills had won their first Super Bowl against the Giants, then they might not have been as motivated to go to four straight.  They may have gotten complacent, and who knows what kind of run they would've had.

If you're looking for a silver lining, perhaps this is it: Kershaw needs something to strive for after having so much come so easy to him already.  He's certainly not the only reason the Dodgers haven't gotten as far as they thought they would the last couple of season, but he knows as the team leader, a lot rests on his strong left arm.  That's what he's aiming to correct each day this offseason.

No one will work harder or wants a championship more than Kershaw, as the last thing he wants to be known as is the guy who pitches well in the regular season, but wilts under the intense pressures of the postseason.  He has his huge contract and plays on a team willing to dish out all sorts of cash to ensure more trips to October.  You know he'll be get more cracks at this thing.

Hopefully 2015 it will all come together for him, as he lands a shiny, new piece of jewelry to go with all the hardware.  If there's anyone you can count on for it to happen, it's Kershaw.

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