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The case for Clayton Kershaw to win National League pitcher of the month

New York Mets v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For Clayton Kershaw, year 16 has gotten off to a fantastic start. Although he isn’t playing the role of the ace for the Dodgers’ rotation this season, the 35-year-old southpaw is a key reason as to why the Dodgers are currently tied with the Diamondbacks for first place in the National League West. Here is why Kershaw should be crowned as the National League’s Pitcher of the Month for April.

As far as Kershaw’s stats are concerned, he’s boasting a 5-1 record and a WHIP of 0.763, leading the majors in wins and the NL in WHIP. He possesses a 1.89 ERA on the season, which ranks eighth in all of baseball and fourth in the NL behind Justin Steele of the Cubs, Spencer Strider of the Braves, and Wade Miley of the Brewers.

Kershaw was an absolute innings eater in April leading all of the National League with 38 innings pitched, one out ahead of D-backs ace Zac Gallen. Kershaw so far on the season has also registered an ERA+ of 234, making him 134 percent better than the average pitcher, while already gathering a 1.6 WAR according to Baseball Reference.

Hitters on the young season are hitting just .175 off of Kershaw, placing him third in the NL behind teammate Dustin May and Spencer Strider. Kershaw has 41 strikeouts on the season already while surrendering just five walks, including allowing just a single walk in his past 20 innings pitched. To add to that span, Kershaw has a 3-0 record with a superior 0.45 ERA and 24 strikeouts in his past 20 innings to lower his ERA to 1.89.

Although Kershaw might not be the clear heavyweight in regards to his stats when compared to arms such as Strider or Gallen, he ranks within the top five in the National League for wins, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, walks allowed, opponent’s BA, and innings pitched.

National League pitchers in April

Stat Kershaw Strider Gallen Steele Fried
Stat Kershaw Strider Gallen Steele Fried
ERA 1.89 (4th) 1.80 (2nd) 2.15 (6th) 1.49 (1st) 0.45 (NR)
IP 38 (1st) 30 (t-31st) 37⅔ (2nd) 36⅓ (t-4th) 20 (t-63rd)
Wins 5 (1st) 3 (t-5th) 4 (t-2nd) 4 (t-2nd) 2 (t-23rd)
Strikeouts 41 (t-5th) 49 (2nd) 51 (1st) 32 (19th) 18 (t-66th)
K rate 28.5% (8th) 42.6% (1st) 36.2% (2nd) 23% (21st) 24.3% (NR)
BB rate 3.47% (5th) 9.6% (34th) 3.55% (7th) 7.9% (25th) 5.4% (NR)
K-BB rate 25% (4th) 33% (1st) 32.6% (2nd) 15.1% (19th) 18.9% (NR)
Opp. OPS .493 (3rd) .411 (1st) .479 (2nd) .552 (5th) .475 (NR)
WHIP 0.763 (1st) 0.833 (3rd) 0.770 (2nd) 0.963 (6th) 0.900 (NR*)
bWAR 1.6 (2nd) 1.3 (t-4th) 1.2 (t-6th) 1.5 (3rd) 1.3 (t-4th)
fWAR 1.2 (t-3rd) 1.3 (2nd) 1.7 (1st) 0.8 (t-7th) 0.7 (t-13th)
NL ranks Max Fried allowed one run in 20 innings in his four starts, falling seven innings shy of qualifying for leaderboards

Complimenting his statistical output have been the accolades he’s received through the first month of the season. Against the New York Mets back on April 18, Kershaw picked up his 200th career win, becoming the fourth active pitcher (along with Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander) and third Dodgers pitcher ever to reach that milestone.

Kershaw has an excellent case to be named April pitcher of the month in the National League.