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Dodgers Dugout: Clayton Kershaw has more to say

Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw with his wife, Ellen, and children (from L-R) Charley, Cooper, and Cali Ann.
(Kershaw Family)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and we have some Trevor Bauer odds and ends to look at.

But first, a goof. After spending all that time in the last newsletter talking about the great Clayton Kershaw story, some of you, because of a production error, were given the wrong link to click. To get to the correct story, please click here.

The second and final part of the interview went up this morning, and you can read it here. Some excerpts:

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On whether he wants to play beyond this year: “Yeah. Well, I say that. I don’t know. I talk to different guys, you know, that have retired that I’ve played with and it’s hard. It’s always a hard thing to figure out when you want to be done, right? Because if you still feel good and are having success, why would you stop? But you don’t want to go until you completely break, right? And you don’t want to pitch when you’re bad.

“So I’ll just say, I don’t know. I have no idea. I do know that I still love it and I have a blast. I feel great and the number one goal this year is just to pitch good and win and next year will take care of itself after that.”

On talking to Sandy Koufax after the World Series: We talked on the phone. He’s just very happy for us. At some point, when he feels good to go out, I’ll see him again. It’s always cool because he’s always been so positive and he feels it, too, when I pitch bad and so it’s just cool to get to see all those guys. All the guys that came before us and stuff. Even the newer old guys like Andre [Ethier] and Matt Kemp, different guys. They’re just happy for us. it’s cool.

On when he was convinced of Andrew Friedman’s philosophies: “I think over probably the last, like, two years, really. It’s not that I didn’t think he was great at what he did. I just didn’t really pay much attention. I was just like, ‘I’ll just show up. We’re going to be good and make the playoffs.’

Then you start seeing other teams around you having to go through like these waves and it’s just impressive what he does. I mean, it’s — he doesn’t miss on too many draft picks and then the guys he puts in place for development — because it’s an organizational thing, right? Just because you draft somebody that’s really good, you have to have people that make him good in five years to help us.

On when he knew he wanted to be an ally in the Black Lives Matter movement: Over the quarantine, over the summer. Like May, June. Started texting with different guys and right around Juneteenth, really, when I put out that statement. It’s true. I didn’t really understand it. I said it the other day, but the systemic racism, what that actually means, I thought you were either racist or you weren’t and I thought that it was kind of as simple as that. And it’s just not black and white — no pun intended.

And then figuring out if my kid doesn’t have the same opportunities as a Black kid because of the color of their skin, that’s not right. And how do you change that? What do you do? I don’t have the answers, but what I do know is you can support as best you can and be vocal about it with different things and maybe it’s something that I’m, not necessarily great at because I’ve never been like a vocal guy, maybe, potentially, but talking with Mookie, talking with David [Price] over texts, it’s just something that’s important.

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Some top Dodger rotations

With the signing of Trevor Bauer on Friday, plus the expected return of David Price, the 2021 Dodgers rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler will, on paper, be one of the franchise’s best ever. How will it compare with great Dodgers rotations of the past?

A good way to compare rotations from different periods in baseball history is to use the ERA+ stat. What that does is compare an ERA to the league average ERA that season and convert it into a number. If a pitcher or team has an ERA+ of 100, then they are exactly the league average. If it is 110, then they are 10% better than average, 90 is 10% worse, and so on.

If you added Bauer to last season’s rotation, their top four starters of Bauer (276), Kershaw (196), Buehler (124) and Dustin May (165) would have an approximate ERA+ of 180. Last season was only 60 games, so that number is more than likely deceptively high. Here’s a look at some other top Dodgers rotations, using the ERA+ for the top four starters. This is not a comprehensive list, as the Dodgers have almost always had good starting pitching:

1916 Brooklyn Robins: Jeff Pfeffer (141), Larry Cheney (140), Sherry Smith (115), Rube Marquard (171). The first Dodgers team to advance to the World Series, where they lost to the Boston Red Sox and their star pitcher, Babe Ruth.

1930 Brooklyn Robins: Dazzy Vance (189), Watty Clark (118), Jumbo Elliott (125), Ray Phelps (120). Vance is the most overlooked great pitcher in team history. This team led the National League until August, when it faded to a fourth-place finish.

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers: Don Newcombe (128), Billy Loes (114), Carl Erskine (108), Johnny Podres (103). Won the first World Series title in team history.

1965: Sandy Koufax (160), Don Drysdale (118), Claude Osteen (117), Johnny Podres (95). The last World Series title for the Koufax-Drysdale duo.

1977: Burt Hooton (147), Tommy John (138), Don Sutton (121), Doug Rau (112). You could also go with the 1976 team, which had the same four. The 1977 team advanced to the World Series, where they lost to the New York Yankees.

1985: Orel Hershiser (171), Fernando Valenzuela (141), Bob Welch (150), Jerry Reuss (119). Valenzuela was near the end of his prime, and Hershiser was at the start of his. It resulted in a loss in the NLCS to Jack Clark and the St. Louis Cardinals.

1996: Hideo Nomo (122), Ismael Valdez (117), Ramon Martinez (114), Pedro Astacio (113). Wild-card team lost to Atlanta in the NLDS.

2015: Zack Greinke (222), Clayton Kershaw (173), Mike Bolsinger (102), Brett Anderson (100). Granted, Bolsinger and Anderson aren’t standouts, but it’s hard to leave out a rotation featuring two Cy Young candidates.

2019: Hyun-Jin Ryu (179), Rich Hill (169), Clayton Kershaw (137), Walker Buehler (127). Just two seasons ago, and this team lost to Washington in the NLDS.

Dodger teams with multiple Cy Young winners on staff

1964 (Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax), Finished 80-82, Sixth in NL

1965 (Drysdale, Koufax), 97-65, Won World Series

1966 (Drysdale, Koufax), 95-67, Lost in World Series

1989 (Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela), 77-83, Fourth in NL West

1990 (Hershiser, Valenzuela), 86-76, Second in NL West

2006 (Eric Gagne, Greg Maddux), 88-74, Second in NL West

2013 (Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw), 92-70, Lost in NLCS

2014 (Greinke, Kershaw), 94-68, Lost in NLDS

2015 (Greinke, Kershaw), 92-70, Lost in NLDS

2021 (Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, maybe David Price), ?

Remembering Tommy Lasorda

The Los Angeles Times has published a commemorative special edition magazine, “Tommy Lasorda: A Baseball Life, A Dodger’s Heart,” honoring the late Dodgers legend.

Celebrating Lasorda’s lasting impact in sports history, the magazine documents his remarkable career with the Dodgers organization, from his start as a minor league pitcher in 1949 through his passing in January of this year.

The 80-page issue spans more than two decades’ worth of The Times’ reporting on and photography of the Hall of Fame Dodgers manager, including bylines from J.A. Adande, Mike DiGiovanna, Bill Dwyre, Helene Elliott, Jack Harris, Dylan Hernández, Sam McManis, Ross Newhan, Bill Plaschke and Maria Torres (and yes, even a byling from your humble newsletter host) and photography by Larry Bessel, Gina Ferazzi, Robert Gauthier, Jayne Kamin-Oncea, Con Keyes, Paul Morse, George Rose and Wally Skalij.

You can learn more here.

What about the greatest Dodger moments of all time?

You all sent me 7,237 ballots (actually, more than that but some had to be disqualified for not following the rules). It has taken quite a while to tabulate all the results, but, we’ll start counting down the 25 greatest moments in Dodger history starting next week, culminating with No. 1 being revealed on Opening Day, April 9 (at least, let’s hope that is opening day).

A spoiler alert: One individual has three separate moments on the list, and another individual has two. The top four vote-getters received far more votes than any of the other 21 moments on the ballot. No. 25, which kicks us off next week, features a former Dodger catcher.

And finally

Tommy Lasorda tells the funniest joke he ever heard. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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