2021 Los Angeles Dodgers Player Ratings: Clayton Kershaw

After helping the Los Angeles Dodgers win their first World Series in 32 years, Clayton Kershaw entered the 2021 season feeling a load lifted but, as always, determined to clinch another title.

After uneven performances in spring training, Kershaw took the mound for a ninth start on the opening day of his career. He allowed six carries (five earned) on 10 hits over 5.2 innings, losing to the Colorado Rockies.

He and the Dodgers downplayed concerns about the out-of-character performance, and Kershaw responded with seven innings of a one-run ball on his next try.

The first month of the regular season could be considered successful, even if Kershaw wasn’t overly dominant, but his May was flat-footed. Kershaw pitched just one inning against the Chicago Cubs on May 4, marking the shortest start of his career. Four days later, after a short break, he improved and threw five goals away at Angel Stadium.

This began a streak of 10 consecutive starts where Kershaw allowed two earned runs or fewer. It was snatched up by the Washington Nationals, who crossed three runs on July 3, but a more pressing issue surfaced four days later when the Dodgers put Kershaw on the 10-day injured list due to a left forearm infection.

An MRI ruled out a possible operation for Tommy John and Kershaw should return sometime in the second half of the season.

Kershaw competed against racquets in late July, but it left some residual pain and he later admitted to speeding up the recovery process. The left-hander was more deliberate the second time around and didn’t activate until September 13th.

That gave Kershaw just enough time to stretch into the full starter workload into the postseason. He had back-to-back encouraging games and then lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks before everything ground to a halt on October 1.

Kershaw didn’t make it out of the second inning due to a second bout of forearm inflammation. While the Dodgers were encouraged, Kershaw’s UCL again suffered no harm, the injury ending his year.

“I know we’re going to do something special this year and I wanted to be a part of it,” Kershaw said. “That’s the hardest part for me right now. Just knowing that things are probably not looking good for October. Overall it will be fun to watch. I look forward to these guys doing what they’re going to do in October.”

Kershaw’s highlight of 2021

Kershaw was facing the Cubs for the second time and atoned for his worst career start at Wrigley Field by racking up 13 strikeouts and allowing just one run on four hits over eight innings.

Outlook 2022

The 33-year-old received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection to treat his elbow/forearm injury and is expected to continue pitching this season. Kershaw was not among the free agents to sign prior to the start of the MLB lockout, and it is believed he will choose between re-signing with the Dodgers or moving to his hometown Texas Rangers.

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