Clayton Kershaw won his 20th game of the season on Friday afternoon against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, and did so in a most instructive way possible. He also joined select company in the process.
Kershaw had his second-worst start of the season on Friday, lasting only five innings while allowing three runs, and walked a season-high-tying three batters, though he also struck out nine. When that's your second-worst start, it's a hell of a year.
But despite lasting only five innings, the win was really never in doubt, thanks to a 14-run outburst by the Dodgers in their crazy road trip that has featured blowout after blowout on both sides of the ledger.
"I've always said wins are a team stat," Kershaw told reporters after the game.
As good as Kershaw has been, it takes a lot of things to go right to be 20-3 in just 26 starts. After all, we saw Kershaw dominate last year, too - though not to the extent he is this year - and still somehow lose nine games, and the team was 19-14 in his starts.
This year, the Dodgers are 22-4 with Kershaw on the mound.
Among all active pitchers, Kershaw joins Bartolo Colon (2002, 2005) as the only ones with two 20-win seasons.
Since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, there have only been 17 Dodgers seasons with 20 or more wins, by 12 different pitchers.
Kershaw is one of only four Dodgers to do so in multiple seasons. The others:
Kershaw gets compared to Koufax more than anybody else, and with good reason. Koufax won 20 games three different seasons - 1963, 1965, and 1966 - which coincided with his three Cy Young Awards, back when there was only one major league award, and the three years Koufax led the majors in ERA. The Dodgers also went to the World Series in all three of those seasons, winning two.
Big D won the Cy Young Award with 25 wins in 1962 and combined with Koufax for 49 wins in 1965. This was before the players unionized, and Koufax and Drysdale famously held out during spring training in 1966, wanting unheard of three-year contracts ultimately settling on raises in their one-year deals.
Often forgotten in Dodgers history, the left-handed Osteen was a rock in the Dodgers rotation, winning 147 games in nine years. The Dodgers traded Frank Howard to get him, in December 1964, then got Jim Wynn for Osteen nine years later. Osteen, nicknamed Gomer because he looked like actor Jim Nabors, won exactly 20 games in both 1969 and 1972.