Don’t sleep on Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young Award

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Some assumed that R.A. Dickey wrapped up the National League Cy Young Award when he got his 20th win Thursday against the Pirates, but Clayton Kershaw is making things interesting.

Kershaw absolutely dominated the Rockies last night by striking out 10 over eight shutout innings as part of an 8-0 victory. The defending Cy Young Award winner was skipped in the rotation earlier this month due to a nagging hip injury, but he has allowed one run in 13 innings over two starts since returning.

Kershaw is just 13-9 on the year, so he isn’t getting as much attention as Dickey and Gio Gonzalez, but he currently ranks first in the National League with a 2.58 ERA. Dickey is at 2.69. Kershaw also has 221 strikeouts on the year, just one behind Dickey for the National League lead. Meanwhile, Gonzalez and Dickey are second and 14th respectively among qualified NL starters in run support while Kershaw ranks 35th.

Dickey has some really strong numbers to go along with an outstanding story and Gonzalez has the edge in wins to go along with a 2.89 ERA and 207 strikeouts, so they still probably deserve to be the favorites, but Kershaw isn’t giving up the Cy Young Award — or the Dodgers’ flickering playoff hopes — without a fight.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.