March 25, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at Maryvale Baseball Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE
Our final 2012 Dodgers player profile brings us to the crown jewel of the franchise. Clayton Kershaw last year became the fifth Dodgers starting pitcher to win a Cy Young Award, with a sublime season.
At 23, Kershaw won the National League pitching triple crown, going 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. He was particularly amazing in the second half, allowing 15 earned runs in his final 15 starts, going 13-1 with a 1.22 ERA.
Like Matt Kemp, Kershaw faces the impossible task of trying to repeat a magical season. "It's hard to expect guys to play at that level," manager Don Mattingly said of his dynamic duo earlier in the spring. But if there is anyone that can pull it off, Kershaw is that guy.
Does Kershaw have a ceiling? The man he gets compared to the most doesn't seem to think so.
"No. How do you make up a ceiling? His only ceiling is time," Sandy Koufax said. How long he will play, you don't know. But as far as talent is concerned, no."
Kershaw will be the first Dodgers starter to start opening day the year after winning the Cy Young Award since Koufax in 1964.
Kershaw avoided arbitration with a two-year, $19 million contract that will pay him $6 million in 2012. Kershaw will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, and if the Dodgers ever let that happen it's time to get the torches and pitchforks for the new ownership group.
Previous Player Profiles
2010: True Ace
|2012 Projections - Age 24 Season|
I think Kershaw puts up a sub-3.00 ERA for the fourth year in a row, with a 2.71 ERA in 229 innings and 242 strikeouts.
What is your prediction? Be sure to guess Kershaw's ERA, number of innings pitched, plus anything else you would like to predict.