Clayton Kershaw is reportedly in agreement to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers for his 15th season with the club. The one-year agreement is pending a physical. Kershaw is a three-time National League Cy Young Award winner for the Dodgers. Clayton also won both the National League MVP Award and Cy Young Award in 2014. Additionally, Kersh placed in the top five of the Cy Young voting in seven straight seasons from 2011-2017. All 14 seasons of Kershaw’s big league career have been with the Dodgers.
Kershaw Deal Pending Physical
Kershaw was on the injured list multiple times last season, which saw his production decline to 121 2/3 innings pitched. His ERA rose to 3.55, which is the highest it has been since his rookie season. At the same time, Kershaw averaged 10.7 strikeouts and only 1.6 walks per nine innings. Clayton’s WHIP was a microscopic 1.019 last season as well, so Kershaw should still have plenty left in the tank going into his age-34 season. Kershaw also finished last season on the injured list. He opted to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection at the end of last season and was unable to pitch in the postseason. So there are some question marks surrounding Kershaw’s health that should be laid to rest during the physical.
Kershaw Reportedly set to Return to Rotation
With Clayton Kershaw back in the rotation, he will rejoin Walker Buehler and Julio Urias. Buehler pitched to a 2.47 ERA with 9.2 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings. Buehler’s WHIP was 0.968 in 207 2/3 innings. Urias amassed a 1.018 WHIP and 2.96 ERA in 185 2/3 innings. He struck out 9.5 and walked 1.8 batters per nine innings. Andrew Heaney will likely be in the starting rotation with Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May also likely candidates for starts this season.
Andrew Heaney is a newcomer to the Dodgers this season, but he is not new to the Dodgers franchise. The Dodgers acquired Heaney from the Miami Marlins in 2014 before promptly trading him the same day to the Los Angeles Angels for Howie Kendrick. In 2021, Heaney pitched to a 5.83 ERA in 129 2/3 innings for the New York Yankees and Angels. Andrew struck out 10.4 and walked 2.8 batters per inning with a WHIP of 1.319. Heaney signed a one-year deal for $8.5 million with the Dodgers this offseason.
Tony Gonsolin made starts in 13 of his 15 appearances for the Dodgers last season. Gonsolin amassed a 3.23 ERA in 55 2/3 innings with 10.5 strikeouts and 5.5 walks per nine innings. His WHIP was 1.347, which was the highest of his career but, like Kershaw and May, Gonsolin was dealing with injuries for much of the season.
Dustin May is recovering from Tommy John surgery performed on May 11, 2021. If Dustin is recovering well, then he could be back on the mound by early to mid-season. Dustin May pitched to a 2.74 ERA with 13.7 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings but was limited to only 23 innings of work. He also had a WHIP of 0.957.
Other Rotation Options
With Kershaw presumably eyeing a return to the Dodgers rotation, the Dodgers do not necessarily have to rely on other options like Trevor Bauer. It is unknown when Bauer will be able to play in an MLB game. With authorities declining to file charges against Bauer earlier in the offseason, Bauer’s fate is up to the league.
David Price is expected to remain in the bullpen, but could also be used as a spot starter during the season. Price made 11 starts in 39 appearances for the Dodgers last season. His overall ERA was 4.03 with 7.1 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings. His WHIP was the highest of his career, however, at 1.425. Price threw 73 1/3 innings last season.
With all of these options available for the Dodgers this season, adding Clayton Kershaw back to the mix really ought to strengthen the Dodgers pitching staff and cement the club as a whole.