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At the close of the season the Dodgers were extremely cautious with 21 year old Clayton Kershaw. And with good reason. Coming into the season he had just under 330 total innings pitched in three minor league seasons. Last year he finished with 169 inning between the majors and minors. After his start on September 4th against the Padres, Kershaw had already pitched 159 innings, and if the Dodgers were going to make it in October as far as they hoped then Kershaw would be looking at a dangerous overall increase. So he sat and watched for eighteen days before finally making a 2 inning relief appearance against the Nationals on September 22nd. After making two more regular season starts and three postseason appearances Kershaw’s innings odometer stopped at 184.1. The Dodgers successfully managed to make the postseason without compromising the future of their ace.

And what a future it can be. Kershaw’s stuff is electric. His fastball heats up to an average velocity of 94 MPH. He isn’t afraid to throw the curve ball (17% of his pitches) and introduced a slider this season that gave hitters one more thing to think about.

Overall his season doesn’t merit him being called an ace in fantasy circles as he was ranked in the 80s by both Yahoo and ESPN. This season only scratches the surface of what Kershaw will become though. Next season his innings odometer will be in the 200s and in all likelihood there will be no stopping in September. Considering that he finished with only 8 wins to his credit, there are certain luck factors that are also going to turn in his favor. Johan Santana for instance had five more wins playing for a worser team and pitching five less innings.

Everything else in his game from a fantasy perspective showed already this past season. His ERA was below 3.00 and his FIP was better than Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, or Adam Wainwright – all of whom could be a top ten pitcher next season. The strikeout rate has always been terrific. Kershaw has exceeded 8.00 K/9 in every professional season he’s pitched and has flashed glimpses of striking hitters out at the same level as divisional rival Tim Lincecum.

Much hype was made about making Kershaw the game one starter against the Phillies in the NLCS, but don’t be shocked if he’s the game one starter in the NLDS next year. While the Dodgers probably won’t send him out on Opening Day until 2011 out of respect to a veteran, this is the Dodgers best arm.

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3 Responses to Kershaw Could Make a Big Jump in 2010

  1. your big fat greek mother says:

    When you bold people's names, you should link to their baseball-reference page so I can easily check their stats….

  2. Schruender says:

    Great point. I did that for the first four or five months I was posting, but got away from it just because it added another minute or two that sometimes I just don't have time for. I will try to do it from now on especially on the posts about one particular player (like Kershaw here).

  3. john says:

    It's intriging to guess what kind of pitcher Kershaw will be when the inning limits come off.

    The thing about wins is they really do go up and down based on bullpens and what not and the Dodgers seem to be a team moreso then most that have starting pitchers with very low win totals.

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