Clayton Kershaw blanked the Rockies for six innings Friday to improve to 16-9 on the season and lower his MLB-best ERA to 1.83.
Kershaw is the first to qualify for the ERA title with an ERA under 2.00 since Roger Clemens came in at 1.87 for the Astros in 2005. His mark is the lowest since Pedro Martinez put up a 1.74 for Boston in 2000.
It will be Kershaw’s third straight NL ERA and WHIP titles. He’s also set to lead the league in strikeouts for a second time with 232 in 236 innings. His second Cy Young is pretty much assured, as well.
There’s also a good case for Kershaw being at the heart of the MVP mix, particularly given that there aren’t any dominant hitters in the National League this year. Alas, his modest win total is sure to doom him there. Not only has Kershaw been limited to 16 wins, but the Dodgers are a mere 19-14 in his 33 starts. That’s a .576 winning percentage that’s practically identical to their .575 mark when he doesn’t pitch.
Of course, it’s not Kershaw’s fault that he’s received such terrible run support; the Dodgers have scored a total of 23 runs in those 14 starts of his they didn’t win. But it’s quite a dent in a claim that he’s the NL’s MVP when his team has been just as good when he doesn’t pitch.
It’s really a moot subject anyway. While the statistically inclined will advance cases for starting pitchers in the MVP balloting, the fact is that no NL starter has finished in the top five since Greg Maddux came in third in 1995.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.