Dodgers-Cubs Preview

There's little doubt Clayton Kershaw will win his second straight and third overall Cy Young Award when the votes are tallied, and his influence on the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers' successful season could lead to him becoming the first NL pitcher in 46 years to be named MVP.

He'll look to improve his already impressive credentials and win a sixth straight start when he takes the mound Friday against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Kershaw (19-3, 1.70 ERA) is tied for the major league lead in victories and tops the list alone in ERA after giving up two runs in eight innings of Sunday's 4-2 win over San Francisco, which trails the Dodgers (87-66) by 2 1/2 games in the NL West.

The imposing left-hander, who won his first Cy Young in 2011, also leads the majors in strikeouts per nine innings (10.63), opponents' batting average (.190) and WHIP (0.83). The last pitcher to lead baseball in all five categories was Detroit's Hal Newhouser in 1946.

Kershaw's current ERA would rank as the 10th-best since 1920, and he can become the seventh pitcher in that span to have an ERA lower than 2.00 at least twice in his career after posting a 1.83 mark last season. The last pitcher to accomplish the feat in back-to-back seasons was Greg Maddux in 1994 and '95.

However, the numbers aren't the only reasons manager Don Mattingly believes Kershaw has a chance to be the first pitcher to win the NL MVP since Bob Gibson in 1968.

"He's on the hunt all the time," Mattingly said. "We call him the Big Train. He just keeps coming, on the attack. Everything's special with him. He doesn't want to let anybody get on or hit him."

Kershaw has a 1.13 ERA during his five-start winning streak, and the Dodgers have won 18 of his 19 outings since June 2. He's 3-2 with a 1.60 ERA in five career starts against the Cubs, who will counter with Edwin Jackson as he makes his first appearance in a month.

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