Dodgers Dugout: Tonight could be Clayton Kershaw’s final start as a Dodger

Los Angeles, CA, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021 - Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw heads to the dugout.
Clayton Kershaw
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and this should be an interesting weekend. The Dodgers are two back with three to play and face a tougher opponent than the Giants, but stranger things have happened.

Tonight’s game could be a momentous occasion, one worthy of noting, even though there’s also a chance it won’t be a momentous occasion.

Depending on what happens over the weekend, this could be Clayton Kershaw‘s final start as a Dodger. He’s a free agent after this season, and, if the Dodgers don’t win the division and play in a wild-card game and lose Wednesday, then this could be it for Kershaw with L.A.

The Dodgers have a boatload of free agents this upcoming offseason. Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Kenley Jansen, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, to name the most prominent ones. It seems unlikely they bring all these guys back, even if the team somehow gets off the hook on Trevor Bauer‘s contract.

A lot will depend on what type of money the players want. A lot probably depends on how far the Dodgers advance in the playoffs, which will help fill the bank account even more. If Scherzer and Seager demand big contracts, does that ace Kershaw out? It’s impossible to guess right now. Then again, maybe Kershaw is excited to come back, the Dodgers have him at the top of their list and it will be an easy signing.

But just in case this is Kershaw’s final start, what an amazing Dodgers career. The second-best pitcher in team history. The second-best pitcher whose last name starts with K in baseball history. Three Cy Young Awards. Two runner-up placings. One third-place finish.

In stats, here’s how he ranks in Dodgers history, minimum 1,000 innings:


Strikeouts: Second (2,669, trailing Don Sutton by 27)

Innings: Fifth (2,453, trailing Sutton, Don Drysdale, Brickyard Kennedy and Dazzy Vance)

Games started: Third (375, trailing Sutton and Drysdale)

Wins: Fourth (185, trailing Sutton, Drysdale and Vance)

Winning percentage: Second (.688, trailing Preacher Roe)

ERA: Third (2.48, trailing Jeff Pfeffer and Nap Rucker, who pitched in the deadball era)

ERA+: First (155, Sandy Koufax is second at 131)

Walks per 9IP: 12th (2.22, trailing only three L.A. Dodgers, Jerry Reuss, Claude Osteen and Tommy John)

K’s per 9IP: First (9.79, Koufax is second at 9.28)

Hits per 9IP: Second (6.80, trailing Koufax at 6.79)

WHIP: First (1.003, Koufax is second at 1.106)

The main thing keeping Kershaw from surpassing Koufax as the greatest Dodgers pitcher ever is Koufax’s superior success in the postseason.

It’s not often that you get to watch season after season of one of the greatest pitchers of all time while he pitches for your team. If this is Kershaw’s final start with the Dodgers and you are at the game, welcome him with an ovation and send him off, good outing or poor, with a standing ovation. He has more than earned that.

But let’s hope he has some more Dodgers playoff starts awaiting him.

—This is going to be a very interesting weekend. Let’s say the Dodgers are one game back with one game to play. Do they start Walker Buehler on Sunday to try to win that game while hoping the Giants lose? If they win Sunday and earn a tie, then Scherzer pitches Game 163. Then, if the Dodgers lose that, who pitches the wild-card game, Julio Urías or Kershaw? Whoever starts, they wouldn’t be able to pitch again until Game 3 of the NLDS, if the Dodgers advance. There are a lot of moving pieces to consider this weekend. It’s part of the fun of baseball.

—Wednesday’s game was definitely amazing to watch. Padres manager Jayce Tingler had his best relievers rested in the bullpen, but went with Emilio Pagan, who gave up a home run, a home run and a deep fly ball. You had to figure he would be yanked at that point, but no. Let’s hope he manages better against the Giants this weekend, which may be his final weekend as manager of the Padres.

Tim Neverett did a pretty good job with the call Wednesday, but you have to wonder what Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser would have done. Davis will be back in the booth Saturday.

Gavin Lux has done a remarkable job in the outfield considering he is virtually learning the position as he goes. I don’t think you could have expected much more from him, and his hitting has been outstanding.


AJ Pollock will be back next season. He had a clause in his contract that allowed him to opt out after this season if he reached 433 plate appearances in 2021. Pollock was at 408 through Wednesday’s game. Unless the Dodgers play a 20-inning game this weekend, the possibility of him reaching 433 plate appearances is remote. Next season will be the final season of his four-year, $55-million deal.

—Whoever plays Milwaukee in the playoffs got a break. Devin Williams, their second-best reliever, broke his pitching hand punching a wall and might be able to return for the World Series.

—We also know that either the Dodgers or Giants will be playing the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card game Wednesday. Adam Wainwright will start for the Cardinals and the game will be televised on TBS at 5 p.m. PDT.

—If the Dodgers lose the division, you can’t really fault them. They will have won at least 103 games in a season where it seemed everything was conspiring against them. Let’s hope the Dodgers and Giants meet in the NLDS, as it seems the fitting way to end the season for one of them.

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Fernandomania @ 40

The Los Angeles Times invites you to The Montalbán Theater in Hollywood for the exclusive finale celebration of “Fernandomania @ 40,” the Times’ documentary series that examines Fernando Valenzuela’s impact on the Dodgers, Major League Baseball and the Latino community in Los Angeles. This live event will feature series highlights on the big screen. In addition, former county supervisor Gloria Molina, Culture Clash’s Richard Montoya, and longtime Valenzuela confidant Ray Lara will join Times columnist Gustavo Arellano and deputy sports editor Iliana Limón Romero to discuss the fan frenzy surrounding the pitcher’s record-setting rookie season and answer questions from the audience.

When: 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4

Where: The Montalbán, 1615 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90028

Tickets: $30. Tickets can be bought at this link.

COVID Safety: Upon registering for the in-person event, you will receive a link in the order confirmation to fill out a required health screening form.

The Los Angeles Times’ “Fernandomania @40” Finale event will take place inside The Montalbán Theater. All guests are required to provide proof of vaccination. Masks will be required at all times when inside the theater.

NL West race

x-San Francisco, 105-54,
x-Dodgers, 103-56, 2 GB

x-clinched playoff spot

The rest of the schedule

Who do the Dodgers and Giants play the rest of the way? Let’s take a look.


Friday: Milwaukee (*Eric Lauer, 7-5, 2.93 ERA) at Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw, 10-8, 3.38 ERA), 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Saturday: Milwaukee (Corbin Burnes, 11-4, 2.29 ERA) at Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 19-3, 3.01 ERA), 6 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Sunday: Milwaukee (TBD) at Dodgers (TBD), Noon, Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

San Francisco

Friday: San Diego (TBD) at San Francisco (Anthony DeSclafani, 12-7, 3.26 ERA), 6:45 p.m.

Saturday: San Diego (TBD) at San Francisco (Kevin Gausman, 14-6, 2.87 ERA), 1 p.m.

Sunday: San Diego (TBD) at San Francisco (Logan Webb, 10-3, 2.93 ERA), Noon


Fun stats time

NL records in September

St. Louis, 22-7
San Francisco, 21-6
Dodgers, 19-7
Atlanta, 16-10
Milwaukee, 14-12
Colorado, 13-13
Philadelphia, 13-14
Chicago, 11-15
Cincinnati, 11-15
New York, 11-16
Pittsburgh, 11-16
Miami, 10-16
Washington, 10-18
Arizona, 6-19
San Diego, 6-19

Dodgers record when:

Julio Urías starts: 25-6
Walker Buehler starts: 21-11
Clayton Kershaw: 13-8
Max Scherzer: 11-0
Tony Gonsolin: 9-4
Trevor Bauer: 8-9
David Price: 4-7
Dustin May: 2-3

In case you missed it

Hernández: Dodgers’ late, great comeback over the Padres was their most incredible win this year

Column: A hearty thank you to Dodgers legend Jaime Jarrín. ‘He made me believe that I belong’

And finally

Vin Scully on having an audience with the Pope. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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