"Thirty starts times seven innings each outing, so it's a lot of innings," Kershaw said. "I hope to get to 200. I hope they give me a chance."
Manager Joe Torre has always said he would be protective of young arms, and it's interesting to note that Tom Verducci, the co-author of Torre's new book, has done plenty of research on the subject.
The so-called "Verducci Effect" is the increased likelihood of injury or higher ERA during the season after an innings workload has been increased by at least 30 for major league pitchers under the age of 25.
Kershaw pitched 49 more innings in 2008 (171 including minors and playoffs) than he did in 2007 (122). Chad Billingsley, 24, pitched 67.1 more innings in 2008 (214.1 including playoffs) than he did in 2007 (147).
Twenty-nine more innings in 2009 for Clayton Kershaw doesn't seem unreasonable. The wild card, so to speak, is if the team contends for a post-season berth. If those 49 more innings in 2008 make you uncomfortable, the Dodgers' playoff run is partially to blame—Kershaw went 4-2 over 60 innings pitched in August and September.
Additionally, if Kershaw hits 200 innings this year, it will most likely be 200 major-league, i.e., high-impact, innings. If this 200-inning goal is attainable for Kershaw, then much more above that milestone will be cause for concern.
What's worse, the Dodgers only have three definite starters right now. (It's only February, I know.) But an almost-certain lack of starting pitching depth will only add to the pressure on Kershaw to stay healthy. Enjoy, Clayton!