Is Walker Buehler the Second Coming of Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles?
The Dodgers will enter 2021 as the defending World Series Champions. The big bats throughout the Dodgers’ lineup tend to take some press away from the outstanding pitching rotation in Los Angeles. Starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, has been one of the headliners in Los Angeles for years.
Kershaw is the greatest pitcher of this generation. Nobody has the ability to question this statement. His statistics speak for themselves. Kershaw is still a first-class pitcher in the MLB, but it’s guaranteed that the 32-year-old won’t be in the LA rotation forever.
Dodgers’ fans believe Walker Buehler will be able to fill Kershaw’s shoes throughout the next decade, but is he the second coming of the future Hall of Famer?
Clayton Kershaw – The Resume
Clayton Kershaw made his MLB debut on May 28, 2008, for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since 2008, Kershaw has posted a record of 175-76 with an ERA of 2.43. The LA ace has recorded 2,526 strikeouts in his illustrious career.
Kershaw has been the one constant in Los Angeles since he first took the mound in 2008. His accolades can rival the greatest pitchers of all time. Kershaw is an 8-time MLB All-Star, a three-time Cy Young Award Winner, and has one NL MVP to his name. He won his first Cy Young four years into his MLB career.
Kershaw won his first world series in 2020, but the Dodgers went through a lot of ups and downs in order to take their spot at the top of baseball. The Dodgers had the reputation of coming up short in the postseason. They lost in back-to-back World Series in 2017 and 2018 against the Astros and Red Sox respectively.
During this stretch, Kershaw faced a lot of criticism. His postseason performances caused critics to claim that the veteran couldn’t pitch well under pressure. Kershaw hasn’t been great in the postseason, but he wasn’t the only reason for the Dodgers’ postseason blemishes.
Kershaw proved that he still has what it takes to pitch at a high level in the MLB this past season. In the 2020 postseason, Kershaw went 4-1 with an ERA of 2.93 and struck out the opposition 37 times.
Walker Buehler – The Resume
Clayton Kershaw battled some injuries and had some postseason hiccups in the seasons leading up to 2020. This made the media’s eyes go straight to Walker Buehler. Walker Buehler is on the rise, but he is still in the shadows of Clayton Kershaw. This won’t be the case forever so it’s hard to not question if the 26-year-old will be able to put the team on his back as Kershaw’s ability begins to fade.
Buehler made his debut on September 7, 2017. He has only been in the league for three full seasons, but he has been spectacular in Dodger Blue. The youngster is 24-9 with an ERA of 3.15 and 420 strikeouts to his name. He has made one All-Star team (2019) in his career.
Buehler is one of the best young pitchers in the game of baseball. During his All-Star season in 2019, Buehler was 14-4 with 216 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.26. Buehler and Kershaw were both dominant in the 2020 postseason which allowed the Dodgers to capture their first World Series since 1988.
In the 2020 postseason, Buehler started five games and went 2-0. He pitched 25 complete innings over the course of the playoffs and had an average WHIP of 1.20. In addition to this, Buehler sat down 39 batters on strikes in his 25 innings of work.
Clayton Kershaw vs Walker Buehler – The Comparison
Clayton Kershaw became one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball during his fourth season in the league. In 2011, Kershaw went 21-5 with a WHIP of 0.98 and 248 strikeouts. After this breakout year, Kershaw didn’t look back and took the MLB by storm. Obviously, Kershaw has more data to analyze than Buehler, but the eight-time All-Star has been pretty consistent ever since his first Cy Young season.
Walker Buehler found his groove in his second full season in the MLB. In 2019, Buehler went 14-4 with 216 strikeouts. He pitched 182.1 innings over the course of 2019. One interesting thing to note is that Kershaw threw 233.1 innings in his first legendary season. The MLB has changed in the past decade. Bullpens are much more prevalent in today’s game, but Kershaw still threw a lot of innings relative to other starters early in his career.
Buehler and Kershaw came into two different scenarios when they arrived in Los Angeles. Clayton Kershaw helped build the Dodgers up to a level where they’re now expected to win the NL West every season. He became the ‘the guy’ very quickly after his first season with the club.
Buehler debuted for LA when Kershaw was still pitching phenomenal in the majority of his outings. Buehler was put into a supporting role in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, so he hasn’t had to carry the load early in his career like Kershaw did over a decade ago.
Is Walker Buehler the Second Coming of Clayton Kershaw?
No. We’ll actually, let me rephrase that…
I love Walker Buehler, but it’s too early to tell if he will become the next Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles. Buehler has put together a tremendous start to his young career, but he needs to do a lot more to be labeled as the second coming of Kershaw. The one-time All-Star hasn’t even been given the ball on opening day yet, so people to calm down.
The Dodgers are in great shape with Buehler in their rotation. Nevertheless, Kershaw is one of the best pitchers of all time. He has been the constant in Los Angeles that has handled the scrutiny and delivered time and time again. He also isn’t leaving anytime soon. Kershaw’s 2020 postseason makes me believe that he is hungry for more awards and championships before he hangs up his cleats.
There will never be another Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles. However, Walker Buehler controls his own destiny. He could be the next great starter for the Dodgers, but I believe that it’s disrespectful to include the 26-year-old in the same conversation as the future Hall of Famer at this point in time.