Fast forward nearly a decade later, as Clayton Kershaw has reinvented himself only to reemerge as one of the early bright spots of the 2022 Dodgers campaign. The 34-year-old left hander improved to 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.73 WHIP through 30 innings into his next outing.
There has been injuries and rough patches to overcome, but he has gotten off to a strong start this season. Almost defying both logic and age, he’s astonishingly delivering solid production at least in the early going. He’s still pitching with conviction, attacking the strike zone with excellent command. He cannot erase his dreadful past or the memory of his epic meltdowns in October. But given his elite stuff as a lefty, he can add some success to his resume, build upon his legacy and cement his place in baseball history.
Obviously, 2022 is different than most, because Kershaw has developed a filthy changeup to pair with his devastating curveball and fastball. It’s just another weapon to his arsenal. It’s for these reasons and more that Kershaw still has a lot of mileage on his arm. It would be nutty to suggest that the pitcher who became the Dodgers’ all-time strikeout leader with 2,697 wasn’t still capable of what he has done early on already in what should be a remarkable season.
In his season debut, Kershaw was perfect though seven innings for the Dodgers, and only had thrown 80 pitches before being pulled from the game. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has been nothing short of dominant every time he’s reached the mound. There can be no doubt that he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Yes, he’s still very good, despite seeing a noticeable velocity drop in all of his pitches. There isn’t enough good that can’t be said about a starter like Kershaw, who has tossed another gem of a game.
He has worked quickly, blown strikeouts past the batters on opposing teams, and he looks like one of the most dominant arms in baseball. In that, we are reminded that he still has plenty left to offer the Dodgers. And this year, well, Kershaw is on another planet so far. His brilliance, his deceptive delivery, his wide array of pitches, all of it added together in such a way that the more you watch him, the more we show our appreciation for one of the best to ever master the art of finesse pitching. His outings so far has all been part of his evolution and transformation.
Kershaw has been solid and awesome. You can’t help but to cheer him on. His teammates love having him around, everybody in that clubhouse idolizes him. The Dodgers signed him to a one-year contract, effectively bringing him back to pursue their second championship in two years. It’s a pretty obvious guess that the main reason he stayed in Los Angeles was to claim another World Series title, all in one place, with one team.
That’s part of the mindset he’s bringing. His combination of determination and pitching brilliance only seems destined to take him even further in his colorful career.