The Dallas native, 23, won his last eight decisions to finish 21--5, with a 2.28 ERA and 248 K's, the most wins by a Dodgers pitcher since Orel Hershiser won 23 in 1988.
DAN PATRICK:Are you the National League Cy Young winner?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: That's a great question. I don't know. I have to wait to find out.
DP:If you win, who will be thanked first in your speech?
CK: You probably have to go wife and then mom.
DP:Your top competition might be the Phillies' Roy Halladay. Do you think we expect so much out of Halladay that it's hard for him to impress us enough to win another Cy Young?
CK: He's unbelievable. You're probably right: You expect him to throw a complete-game shutout every time he goes out there.
DP:What pitcher do you model your style after?
CK: I loved watching Andy Pettitte. He's a Texas guy, so I watched him a lot. And Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens... . I loved watching those three especially.
DP:At what point did you know you had something special in your left arm?
CK: It wasn't until later on in high school. Junior year, I thought I'd have a chance to play in college. Then, senior year, I thought maybe I'd get to do it professionally.
DP:How many no-hitters in high school?
CK: Maybe two.
DP:Maybe two? You don't know?
CK: In Texas, if you're winning 10--0 after five innings, they call the game. I don't know if that counts.
DP:You can count them.
CK: Then three.
DP:You went to high school with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Who has a better arm?
CK: Matthew, no doubt.
DP:Could Stafford have pitched in the major leagues?
CK: He had a chance to play shortstop. He had great hands. He might be a closer type. He threw about 90 in high school.
DP:Are you a Lions fan?
CK: I am now. There's a Lions-Cowboys game on Sunday. I'm going to get to go. That'll be awesome.
DP:But you grew up a Cowboys fan.
CK: I did. I grew up in Dallas. I'm rooting for a shootout.
DP:How would you pitch to Matt Kemp?
CK: Four pitches outside the strike zone. Just hope he chases, I guess, because right now he's locked in.
DP:Who will win the National League MVP?
CK: I don't know, but if Kemp doesn't win it, somebody got it wrong. What he's done all year has been absolutely unbelievable for us. People can look at the record and say we didn't make the playoffs, but without him we might be 30 games under.
DP:What do you think of the job manager Don Mattingly has done?
CK: Donnie's awesome. He's so positive. That first half was so bad, but he remained positive. That kind of rubs off on the guys. You saw that it in the second half.
DP:Does Mattingly ever talk about how good he was as a player?
CK: Donnie doesn't talk about himself as a player at all. The one thing he does do is never forget how hard it is to play this game. When people are struggling, he doesn't just ride them to the bench. He understands this is a tough game. That's pretty special.
"I think to some degree [Terry Francona has been managing for his job]. It seems very strange to think that. I've sensed an increasing disconnect between Theo Epstein and Terry Francona."
—MLB Network's Peter Gammons, commenting on the Red Sox' September swoon
Ever wonder what happens at the bottom of an NFL pile? According to Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, it's not pretty. "On one play they were trying to act like I fumbled," Fitzpatrick told me after Buffalo upset New England. "I was getting pinched and poked and prodded. I feel like I was violated a little bit." ... Fox's Tony Siragusa was on the sideline during the Eagles' loss to the Giants and understands why Michael Vick poses problems for the men in stripes. "Officials have to figure out, Do you treat him like a running back or do you treat him like a quarterback?" Siragusa said. "He's a different kind of player." ... Former head of NFL officiating Mike Pereira acknowledged that officials are in the spotlight but claimed they're performing at a high level. "These players have gotten so big and so fast," Pereira explained, "but 98 percent of plays are officiated correctly." ... The retired Shaquille O'Neal is concerned with his legacy. When I said he can't shoot free throws, O'Neal balked: "I shot 50 percent. Make one, miss one. The word can't means makes none."
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ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (O'NEAL)
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE/ZUMAPRESS.COM (KERSHAW)