Clayton Kershaw gets the call for the Dodgers on Tuesday night against the Cubs, looking to build on one of the finest pitching seasons in franchise history. The left-hander is the favorite for the National League Cy Young Award, which would be his second in three seasons. Kershaw is poised to join some elite company, and when factoring age could enter unprecedented territory.
Kershaw won the award in 2011 and was the runner-up to R.A. Dickey in 2012.
There have been 14 different pitchers to finish in the top three in Cy Young balloting for at least three straight seasons.
There are a few caveats here. There was only one Cy Young Award for both leagues from 1956-1966, which make Warren Spahn and Sandy Koufax look all the more impressive. There was only a single vote for the Cy through 1969, then from 1970-2009. the balloting was done on a 5-3-1 basis for first, second and third place votes, respectively. Since 2010 Cy Young voters name a top five on their ballot, with points awarded on a 7-4-3-2-1 basis.
Only Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Jim Palmer and Brandon Webb have finished in the top two for at least three straight seasons. Martinez was the youngest during his award run, starting at age 25. Kershaw began his hardware collection at age 23, which would make him the youngest member of an elite group if he either wins his second award or finishes second to Adam Wainwright, the one with the most realistic chance to unseat Kershaw for the award.
Kershaw has allowed 11 total runs, including 10 earned runs, in his last 10 starts, over 77 innings. He has lasted eight innings in three straight starts, and in eight of his last 11 starts, and on the season is averaging 7.35 innings per outing.
Kershaw leads the majors in quality starts with 23, and also leads MLB with 18 ultra quality starts (games with at least seven innings pitched and no more than two earned runs allowed). He has seven starts with at least eight innings pitched and no runs allowed, including each of his last two starts. Nobody else in MLB has more than three such starts.
Heading into Tuesday night, Kershaw carries a streak of 16 consecutive scoreless innings and a major league best 1.72 ERA.
Dodgers starters have a 2.05 ERA in five games against the Cubs this season, all Dodgers wins, and Kershaw hasn't even faced Chicago yet. Kershaw in his career is 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four starts against the Cubs, including a win over Chicago at Dodger Stadium in each of the last three seasons.
Travis Wood gets the start on the mound for the Cubs, but will also have to face Kershaw at the plate.
Opposing pitchers are 1-for-45 against Kershaw in 2013 with two walks and 27 strikeouts. The .086 OPS against Kershaw by pitchers is the third-lowest among pitchers with at least 20 plate appearances against other pitchers, trailing only Mat Latos (.048, 1-for-42) and Marco Estrada (.083, 0-for-22, two walks).
Tyson Ross of the Padres was the one pitcher to get a hit against Kershaw in 2013, and did so on Apr. 17. Since then opposing pitchers are 0-for-38 against Kershaw, with two walks (April 23 to Robert Carson of the Mets, July 7 to Chad Gaudin of the Giants) and 23 strikeouts.
Time: 7:10 p.m.