Clayton Kershaw's legendary career is already studded with accomplishments. He's a nine-time All-Star, three-time Cy Young Award winner, the most recent pitcher to take home an MVP Award and the only player to lead baseball in ERA in four consecutive seasons (as part of five total ERA titles.) Among pitchers with at least 1,500 innings pitched since 1900, he leads in both ERA (2.48) and WHIP (1.00). He's thrown a no-hitter and won a Triple Crown. What more could he possibly achieve?
Well, not much. But the Dodgers’ longtime ace added another accolade to his long resume on Tuesday. By pitching seven shutout innings in a 5-0 win over the Mets, Kershaw earned his 200th career win. In honor of the accomplishment, here are nine stats and facts about the left-hander’s milestone.
- Kershaw is just the third player in Dodgers history with 200 wins as a member of the franchise, joining Hall of Famers Don Sutton (233) and Don Drysdale (209).
- Having spent his entire career up to this point in Los Angeles, Kershaw has feasted on the NL West, with 95 of his wins coming against the Dodgers' divisional rivals. But he's been particularly rough on the Rockies (26-11) and Padres (23-9), as he's been credited with a win in just over half of his starts against both clubs.
- Although being familiar with Kershaw’s arsenal has evidently offered hitters little advantage, he has also historically had a great time facing hitters who aren’t accustomed to him. He has a career 27-5 record against American League teams – that’s a winning percentage of .844, the highest in Interleague Play among pitchers with at least 20 starts.
- He earned his first career win on July 27, 2008, when he threw six shutout innings in a 2-0 win over the Nationals. At 20 years, 130 days old, he became the youngest pitcher to win a game since Félix Hernández in 2006. In part thanks to that early start, he had compiled 144 career wins before turning 30. Currently, no active pitcher who will be in his 20s at the end of this season is within striking distance of the 100-win mark – the Blue Jays’ José Berríos leads the group with 73 wins.
- Kershaw’s 100th career win came on May 15, 2015, when he threw 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs in a 6-4 win over – who else? – the Rockies. As an added bonus, he had 10 strikeouts in that game as part of a season total of 301, becoming the first player to strike out at least 300 batters in a single season since Randy Johnson in 2002.
- Now sitting at 200 wins and 88 losses, he becomes the fourth pitcher in the Modern Era to reach the 200-win mark before taking his 100th loss. The others are all, again, Hall of Famers: Whitey Ford, Lefty Grove and Pedro Martinez.
- If by this point you’re wondering why reaching 200 wins has become a noteworthy accomplishment less than 15 years after we celebrated Randy Johnson's 300th win, you can look to increased efforts to prevent overwork injuries in recent years. Before 2016, there had never been a full 162-game season in which MLB had fewer than 25 pitchers with at least 200 innings pitched, and in the 20th century, every 162-game season had at least 40. Since then, the numbers have dwindled – in 2008, as Kershaw was making his Major League debut, there were 34. In 2022, there were just eight, and with fewer innings pitched comes a diminished chance at earning a win on any given day. In each of the last two seasons, just one pitcher has won 20 games (teammate Julio Urías in 2021 and the Braves’ Kyle Wright in 2022.)
- Kershaw has personally hit the 20-win benchmark twice in his career, in 2011 and 2014, seasons in which he set and tied his career-high of 21 wins. And while baseball has steadily moved away from using wins as an indicator of overall performance, those were two of Kershaw’s best seasons – he won Cy Young Awards in both and was named NL MVP in 2014, a year in which he posted a 1.77 ERA and lost just three games.
- The 35-year-old Kershaw is now one of four active pitchers with at least 200 wins, joining Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer – all of whom are at least three years older. The next active player behind him is Adam Wainwright, who currently sits at 195 wins at age 41. Beyond those five guys, 12 more active pitchers have at least 100 wins – all will be at least 33 at the end of the season, and none have more than 163 victories.