Once a model of consistency and durability, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered the 2019 season with plenty to prove to his skeptics.
The 31-year-old was coming off a third consecutive campaign and fourth in the past five years in which he required a stint on the injured list because of back trouble, forcing him to change his approach and habits.
While Kershaw set his sights on returning to elite form, he suffered yet another setback shortly after pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback Ranch for Spring Training.
Lingering shoulder issues required Kershaw to twice be shut down and ultimately led to his streak of consecutive Opening Day starts being snapped. He was placed on 10-day injured list to begin the season and missed roughly three weeks before making his debut toward the middle of April.
Since then, Kershaw has remained healthy and continues proving his value as a member of the Dodgers starting rotation. When discussing his 2019 campaign, Kershaw explained he has felt rejuvenated taking the mound without the lingering effects of previous injuries, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“It’s fun. It really is,” Kershaw says. “It’s great to wake up and (snaps fingers) your back doesn’t hurt, your shoulder doesn’t hurt, everything feels good. It’s awesome.”
Despite missing a good portion of April, Kershaw went on to enjoy an excellent first half of play which culminated with his eighth career All-Star selection.
Kershaw has since picked up where he left in the second half and is well on the way to logging his most starts and innings pitched in a single season since 2015. That year, he led the National League in both categories en route to top-10 finishes in MVP and Cy Young Award voting.
In 24 overall starts this season, Kershaw has compiled a 13-4 record, 2.96 ERA, 3.69 FIP and 1.01 WHIP with 165 strikeouts against 33 walks over 155 innings pitched.
Kershaw has reached two milestones in the process, both of which involved famed Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax. Kershaw moved past Koufax on the franchise’s all-time strikeouts list, then broke a tie with his 166th career win, which moved Kershaw into fifth in Dodgers history.
No southpaw who has pitched for the organization — both in Brooklyn and L.A. — holds more wins than the three-time Cy Young Award winner.