Pitcher wins are a nuisance as a measure of success and basically only qualify as trivia, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be interesting or deeply weird trivia.
And it’s interesting and deeply weird that for the first time in franchise history, the Dodgers might not have a single pitcher win 10 games this season.
After all, it’s only been four years since Clayton Kershaw won 21 games, and as recently as last year, despite being limited to 27 starts, the lefty ace won 18.
This year, Kershaw’s chances of winning 20 disappeared when a slow start and two trips to the disabled list left him with a 1-4 record on July 1. But now, despite rolling with an ERA of 2.00495 in his past 10 starts and only a single loss, the question is whether he or anyone else can get to double-digit wins.
Thanks to no-decisions in three of his past four outings, Kershaw remains stuck on six wins. The Dodgers have 31 games remaining, which probably gives Kershaw six starts — maybe seven if there’s huge drama, like a regular-season tiebreaker game. Presumably, he can win four of those to get to 10 — which would still be his lowest win total since 2009 — but in this crazy season, who knows?
Alex Wood (7-6), whose next start comes Wednesday, is the only member of the current rotation who might have eight wins by September 1, but despite a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings this month, Wood has been stuck on seven wins since since July 28. Rich Hill (6-4) lurks in the same position as Kershaw, while Hyun-Jin Ryu (4-1) kept his slim hopes for 10 wins alive with a victory Sunday.
Obviously, in this era of disappearing complete games — the Dodgers have now gone more than a year without one, since Rich Hill’s near-perfect one-hitter on August 23 last year — the starting pitchers need better support from their bullpen to add to their win totals. Moreover, you can make a case that the Dodgers’ best bet to get to 10 wins might be Ross Stripling, assuming he returns healthy for the season’s final month.
Stripling leads the Dodgers with eight wins — the bad news is that he might not start another game this season, but the good news is that he could go down to the final weekend and still pick up a couple Ws. It’s a similar story with slightly longer odds for Kenta Maeda (7-8).
Since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, the fewest wins to lead the team were Tom Candiotti’s 11, during the 99-loss season of 1992. Before that, the 1944 Dodgers, who went 63-91, were led in victories by Curt Davis, who picked up win No. 10 on September 24, the penultimate Sunday of the season.
The idea that the Dodgers could post a winning record, let alone play in the postseason, without a 10-game winner is bizarre for times like these, unless you would argue it defines times like these.
Update: Bob Timmermann builds upon my final point with this haymaker.
No team has made the postseason ever without a 10-game winner. 2 teams in shortened seasons had 1: 95 Rockies and 81 Yankees. The 2014 Giants just had 2.
— Bob Timmermann (@bobtimmermann) August 27, 2018