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Projecting Clayton Kershaw for 2021

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Checking in on PECOTA projections at Baseball Prospectus

World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Five Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s PECOTA week at Baseball Prospectus, diving deep into their flagship projection system. It cleverly shares a name with nine-year major league infielder Bill Pecota, but also is an acronym, standing for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.

Among the difficulties this year with projections is how to handle a truncated 2020 season that was 37 percent of a normal season’s length. Jonathan Judge tackles that and other questions, and in doing so used Clayton Kershaw, whose strong history (one ERA starting with a three in the last 12 years) gives more of a sense of certainty compared to White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech, who has more variance in his projections:

Kershaw, on the other hand, has an extensive record of considerable accomplishment. His track record is so strong that it is virtually inconceivable he could end up being merely average, and his projected median DRA—remember, DRA is on the RA9 scale—is just over 3.

PECOTA’s 50th-percentile projection for Kershaw has him posting a 2.33 ERA with 178 strikeouts in 167 innings in 2021, with a 3.19 FIP and 3.14 DRA (Deserved Run Average). Kershaw last year had a 2.16 ERA and 3.31 FIP in 10 starts, with a 3.40 DRA.

Here’s how the PECOTA projections compare to various other systems (all listed on FanGraphs)

2021 projections for Clayton Kershaw

Projection IP ERA FIP
Projection IP ERA FIP
PECOTA 167 2.33 3.19
ZiPS 154 3.21 3.49
Steamer 178 3.78 3.92
THE BAT 176 3.74 3.95
ATC 162 3.33 3.65
Sources: Baseball Prospectus & FanGraphs

Here are the PECOTA projections for the Dodgers’ starting pitchers:

  • Kershaw: 2.33 ERA, 3.14 DRA
  • Walker Buehler: 2.92 ERA, 3.68 DRA
  • Tony Gonsolin: 3.60 ERA, 4.30 DRA
  • Julio Urías: 3.74 ERA, 4.46 DRA
  • David Price: 3.85 ERA, 4.60 DRA
  • Dustin May: 4.10 ERA, 4.81 DRA
  • Josiah Gray: 3.81 ERA, 4.76 DRA

Links & news

  • Felipe Ruiz was Tommy Lasorda’s assistant and driver the last six years, and told Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, “He was my best friend, my life mentor, my father, my grandfather. He didn’t treat me like an employee, he treated me like a son.”
  • Dodgers among the top 40 right-handed pitching prospects per Baseball America are Josiah Gray (No. 17), Bobby Miller (No. 36), and reliever Ryan Pepiot (No. 38).
  • Dodgers Double-A affiliate Tulsa Drillers will unveil a 26-by-40-foot mural of Jackie Robinson beyond the left field concourse at ONEOK Field, a joint project from artists Chris “Sker” Rogers and Thomas “Detour” Evans. The mural is expected to be ready by the start of the 2021 season for the Drillers.
  • Dustin Nosler at Dodgers Digest detailed the Dodgers’ internal options for increased playing time after the losses of Kiké Hernández and Joc Pederson.
  • Among the recent Dodgers minor league signings, noted by Chris Hilburn-Trenkle at Baseball America, who we haven’t previously discussed here are 30-year-old infielder Andy Burns, who was in the Blue Jays player pool in 2019, and 29-year-old pitcher Markus Solbach, who pitched for Double-A Tulsa in 2019 and in the Italian Baseball League last year.
  • Raul Ibanez, who was a special assistant to Andrew Friedman in the Dodgers front office, will join Major League Baseball as a senior vice president of on-field operations. Per MLB, Ibanez “will work on issues related to rules, equipment and on-field technology. He will also contribute to MLB’s initiatives in scouting and amateur baseball.”
  • Former Marlins general manager Mike Hill will take over MLB’s on-field discipline and oversee umpiring. That role was previously held by former pitcher Chris Young, who left to become the Rangers GM this offseason.