Harry How - Getty Images
Despite dealing with a right hip impingement during the final month of the season, Clayton Kershaw allowed four runs over his final five starts.
"I don't feel like talking about it," Kershaw said of his hip injury. "We can talk about baseball."
Luckily there was plenty of baseball to converse about, as Kershaw pitched eight innings for the second straight start. He allowed one run and struck out eight, ending his season on a high note with a win.
"It's just Clayton, just competing. A lot of guys wouldn't want to pitch today, but Clayton just loves to pitch so much," said manager Don Mattingly. "It's just fun to watch him pitch."
Kershaw led the major leagues with a 2.53 ERA, his second straight season doing so. He led the National League with a 1.023 WHIP, his second straight year of doing that. He fell one strikeout short of tying R.A. Dickey for the NL strikeout lead, and didn't have the advantage of facing Taller Eddie Gaedel.
Kershaw was more excited about his RBI single, which tied the game at 1-1 in the fifth inning, which helped him to a final batting average of .207 on the season. "I needed it. It kept me above .200 for the year," he joked.
His 2012 season wasn't quite as good as 2011, but Kershaw came reasonably close.
Kershaw's win was his 14th of the season, 33% less than he had last year. But he also pitched in a major league high five games of seven innings or longer with one or zero runs allowed and no win. The deflated win total doesn't change Kershaw's stature in the clubhouse.
"It's kind of what we talked about during spring training, with him going out and really throwing the ball well but not getting the same support, but he was really the same as last year when he won the Cy Young Award," Mattingly said. "He won't win the award (this year) because he doesn't have enough wins,but he's as good as anybody in the game."
"Obviously I'm personally and professionally biased but he's the Cy Young. He's the best pitcher in baseball. Well, him and (Justin) Verlander. Those two guys are in a separate class," said catcher A.J. Ellis, who got a rare day off on Wednesday.
"It's just so funny how, wins don't mean as much anymore. I mean they do, but (starting pitchers) don't have any control over them," Ellis said. "It's like the whole (Miguel) Cabrera-(Mike) Trout debate; I think people are starting to understand what value is, and how to measure it."
For Kershaw, though the Dodgers fell short of the postseason, the strong finish of winning seven of eight games, outscoring their opponents 45-14 during that span, bodes well for 2013.
"There are a lot of expectations, that's for sure. It's good to have these nine games as a basis of how we can play. That's how we should play for 162," Kershaw said. "We have pretty much all the starters back next year, so it should be pretty interesting."