But after throwing eight pain-free, shutout innings with 10 strikeouts on Friday night, Kershaw will get one more start this season to make his case for the award. For the moment, the lefty is listed as the starter for Wednesday's regular season finale against San Francisco, and he has every intention of taking the mound.
"That is my plan," Kershaw said. "Hopefully it matters. I definitely plan on pitching, regardless."
Kershaw is second in the NL in innings pitched (219 2/3) and strikeouts (221), trailing R.A. Dickey in both categories. The lefty has held opposing batters to a .213 average, which is second in the NL to Gio Gonzalez's .206 mark.
Kershaw's total of 13 wins isn't as flashy as some of the other top pitchers in the league, like Gonzalez (21), Dickey (20) or Johnny Cueto (19), but that is because he has been the recipient of poor run support all season.
Kershaw is 5-3 with a 1.79 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings over his last 10 starts. He went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts last season to win the Cy Young Award.
"He embraces being the guy at the front of the rotation," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who remembers Kershaw needing 100 pitches to get through four innings as a rookie. "It's totally evident in his body language."
"His fastball command is like night and day from when he showed up. He's developed into one of the best in the industry. A big-game pitcher. If there's a game you have to win, you feel very good about your chances"
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he had hesitations about keeping Kershaw in the game late Friday night because of the right hip impingement, but he ultimately let him stay in the game after cruising through the first seven innings.
"In the eighth, I was kind of a little nervous about sending him back out around 100 pitches," said Mattingly, adding there has never been any concern that there was a "long-range, long-term, unfixable-type of problem."
"He just rolled. He was throwing the ball so good. It tells you there was nothing going on. If there is something going on, you don't keep throwing the ball like that. The way he has pitched has really told the story."