The Los Angeles Dodgers have been the hottest team in baseball over the past two months, going 38-11 since the start of June. Not surprisingly the team's young ace, Clayton Kershaw, is a big reason a resurgence of this magnitude was possible.
In Kershaw's 10 starts since the beginning of June, he has put up a 7-2 record with a microscopic 1.17 ERA, only allowing more than two runs in a single start over that time frame and going at least seven innings in nine of 10 as well. Over the course of the wild-card era, Kershaw's streak of 39 games started without allowing more than four runs in a start is tied for the second longest, with Tom Glavine, behind only Jake Peavy from 2003-05.
Kershaw is looking like the favorite for the NL Cy Young at this point, with Adam Wainwright (15-7, 2.58) being his chief competition at this time. But in what might go down as the best season of his career, Kershaw has a chance at the even richer prize for a pitcher: the MVP award.
Coming home with the MVP hardware as a pitcher is easier said than done. Despite the MVP ballot explicitly stating that pitchers are eligible to win the MVP trophy, many of the voting writers have clearly considered it to be a positional player award. That means, for a pitcher to win the MVP, they're going to have to really be head and shoulders above the rest of the league.
Justin Verlander pulled off the trick in 2011, becoming the first starting pitcher to win an MVP since Roger Clemens in 1986. Being a closer is another way to get MVP votes, especially in the '80s and early '90s, but that hardly helps Kershaw. Kershaw is in position to take home an MVP award that would be somewhat unprecedented -- I'll explain -- and here's how.