Clayton Kershaw will earn the pitching Triple Crown

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The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw furthered his Cy Young case on Sunday by allowing two runs over 7 1/3 innings and beating the Padres in his final start of the year.

Kershaw tied Ian Kennedy, who made his last start Saturday, for the NL lead with 21 wins.

Justin Verlander has 24 wins in the AL, so this is the first year since 2005 that at least three starters have won 21 games.

Already the NL leader in ERA and strikeouts, Kershaw virtually clinched the pitching Triple Crown today.  He ends the year with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts.  Roy Halladay also started today and pitched six scoreless innings, lowering his ERA from 2.41 to 2.35.  Cliff Lee, who has a 2.38 ERA going into his start against the Braves on Monday, would have to pitch at least 10 2/3 scoreless innings or strike out at least 17 batters to deny Kershaw titles in either category.  While a 17-strikeout game for Lee wouldn’t be an impossible under normal circumstances, there’s no way he’s getting there while on a pitch count in his final start before the NLDS.

That pitching Triple Crown figures to notch Kershaw the Cy Young Award, whether it’s truly deserved or not.  There are strong cases for Halladay and Lee as well, especially since both pitch in a better ballpark for hitters, but even after digging into the deeper stats, Kershaw still fares quite well.