If you haven't posted your thoughts for the following Dodger projections, take a moment to participate by clicking on the True Blue Community Projections and let us know what you think the future holds for 2009.
Many pundits have put us on the top of the West because we signed Manny but the season really hinges on Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw. As Eric notes in his story about our dynamic duo they are quite special. To our dismay we have seen in the battle for the 5th spot that quality starting pitching depth is a problem for this team. They will need healthy and above average productive performances from the best right/lefty home grown combination since Bob Welch/Fernando in 1981 to win the West.
Clayton Kershaw last year had the 15th best season ever for a 20 year old or younger LHP since 1947 using ERA+ as the metric. Here is what the best LH pitchers have done at the age of 21 . For all the heat Dontrille Willis takes these days he was very good in 2003 at the age of 21. Scott Kazmir at the age of 21 in 2005 was the latest to show what can be accomplished. CC Sabatthia threw over 200 inings but only posted a 100 ERA+.
On Tuesday Clayton Kershaw looked as good as we've ever seen him. Mixing his fastball ball with Uncle Charlie he made the Royals look like boys. Not many change ups so the question is, what can he accomplish in 2009 as a two pitch pitcher? Can he go Vida Blue? Fernando? No way, but he might be able to replicate or better what Kazmir did in 2005 when he posted a 116 ERA+ in 186 innings.
Chad Billingsley ascension into our ace has been addressed but lets take one more look at what he's accomplished at the age of 23 in the world of young LA Dodger hurlers. Only Fernando has ever had two plus 135 ERA+ seasons by the age of 25 and Chad has already done it twice by the age of 23. As you can see from this list of the best seasons ever age 25 and under many have done it once but only two of our boys have ever done it twice. This list includes Fernando(20)(24), Astacio(22), Welch(21), Valdez(23), Pena(25), and Singer(25). Pena also has a seasonn of 131 ERA+ ball at the age of 24. Don Drysdale bridged Brooklyn and LA so he would be join Chad and Fernando on this list if we included his age 20 season in Brooklyn in 1957. Here's to hoping that Chad breaks the tie with Fernando this season and becomes the all - time best Dodger pitcher age 25 and less. Of course whatever he does, Clayton may just do him one better.
So what does the projection world think they will do. Below is what Baseball HQ had to say
Clayton Kershaw - Given age and inexperience, a remarkable debut. A prospect right out of Central Casting: elit Dom, GB tilt, Ctl settled as year went on. Only injuries can keep him from greatness.
Chad Billingsley - As solid a profile as one could want from a 24-yr old starter. Consistent growth in all areas reduces risk; 2H skills spike a great sign. Borderline Ctl is the only real qualm. It's a small one. UP: 20 W, sub-3.00 ERA, Cy.
These projections seem light to me.