Despite the decline of offensive output in MLB since 2006 (teams have gone from 4.86 runs-per-game to 4.20), no starting pitcher since Roger Clemens in 2005 has finished a season with an ERA under 2.00. Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is on pace to change that in 2013. The 25-year-old southpaw, who won the 2011 National League Cy Young award, has a 1.91 ERA in 174.1 innings pitched. The pitcher with the most sub-2 ERA seasons in the last 50 years is the player to whom Kershaw most often draws comparisons, Sandy Koufax, another hard-throwing lefty with a devastating curveball.

Starters With Sub-2.00 ERAs In Past 50 Years Slideshow


Bob Gibson

St. Louis Cardinals, 1968: 1.12 ERA, 304.2 innings pitched Having already dominated hitters through the first nine years of his Hall of Fame career, Gibson is simply unfair in '68. He throws 13 shutouts and 28 complete games in 34 starts and posts what stands as the fourth-best ERA of all-time (the top three all occurred before or during the Dead Ball Era). The success of Gibson and many other pitchers in '68 leads MLB to lower the height of the pitching mound from 15 to 10 inches.


Dwight Gooden

New York Mets, 1985: 1.53 ERA, 276.2 innings pitched As a second-year major leaguer, Gooden has perhaps the most impressive single season for a starting pitcher ever. The 20-year-old phenom tosses eight shutouts and 16 complete games while striking out 268 hitters. ranks Gooden's 12.2 Wins Above Replacement as the most for a pitcher since 1913.


Greg Maddux

Atlanta Braves, 1994: 1.56 ERA, 202 innings pitched Atlanta Braves, 1995: 1.63 ERA, 209.2 innings pitched Maddux dazzles in the strike-shortened '94 season and picks up where he left off the next year. He wins back-to-back Cy Young awards and helps the Braves to a World Series title. Maddux's ERA+ numbers (adjusted for ballpark and era) in '94 and '95 are the fourth and fifth best of all-time, respectively.


Luis Tiant

Cleveland Indians, 1968: 1.60 ERA, 258.1 innings pitched Tiant throws nine shutouts and 19 complete games in '68 before stumbling to 20 losses the next season. He posts ERAs of 3.71, 3.40 and 4.85 before settling into a bullpen role with Boston in '72. He makes 24 appearances in relief and 19 starts en route to a second sub-2 ERA season (1.91) that year. Despite pitching an additional 10 seasons, Tiant has only one more year with an ERA under 3.00.


Dean Chance

Los Angeles Angels, 1964: 1.65 ERA, 278.1 innings pitched A revelation in his fourth season, the 23-year-old Chance beats out crosstown rival Sandy Koufax for the Cy Young award. He pitches seven more years in the majors, finishing with a career ERA of 2.92.


Sandy Koufax

Los Angeles Dodgers, 1963: 1.88 ERA, 311 innings pitched Los Angeles Dodgers, 1964: 1.74 ERA, 223 innings pitched Los Angeles Dodgers, 1966: 1.73 ERA, 323 innings pitched Koufax's four-year stretch of dominance from '63 to '66 may be unmatched in baseball history. He throws over 300 innings in all but one season and barely misses out on four straight sub-2 ERA years (2.04 in '65). Koufax wins three Cy Young awards, one NL MVP and two World Series before chronic elbow pain forces his early retirement at age 30.


Pedro Martinez

1997, Montreal Expos: 1.90 ERA, 241.1 innings pitched 2000, Boston Red Sox: 1.74 ERA, 217 innings pitched Martinez proves immune to MLB's offensive explosion. He strikes out over 300 hitters in '97 and holds them to an astonishing .472 OPS in '00. His 0.74 WHIP in '00 is the lowest in history among starting pitchers, and his ERA+ of 291 is the best since Tim O'Keefe's 293 in 1880. Roger Clemens finishes second in the AL ERA "race" at 3.70.


Ron Guidry

New York Yankees, 1978: 1.74 ERA, 273.2 innings pitched In only his second full season, Guidry, 27, goes 25-3 and wins the AL Cy Young award. Guidry falls short in the MVP voting to Boston's Jim Rice, despite being worth two more Wins Above Replacement, according to


Tom Seaver

New York Mets, 1971: 1.76 ERA, 286.1 innings pitched Seaver racks up 289 strikeouts and completes 21 of 35 starts but finishes behind Chicago's Ferguson Jenkins in NL Cy Young voting. The Hall of Famer wins three Cy Young awards in other seasons.


Sam McDowell

Cleveland Indians, 1968: 1.81 ERA, 269 innings pitched In the "Year of the Pitcher," which sees five others post ERAs under 2.00, McDowell's 15-14 record leaves his performance less noticed. However, he is the victim of woeful run support from the Indians, who score only 2.84 per game with him on the hill. The Tribe still manages to win 86 games.


Vida Blue

Oakland Athletics, 1971: 1.82 ERA, 312 innings pitched Blue spends the offseason training with the Army Reserve at Fort Bragg. Months later, he dominates in his first full season as a starter, winning AL Cy Young and MVP at age 21.


Roger Clemens

Boston Red Sox, 1990: 1.93 ERA, 228.1 innings pitched Houston Astros, 2005: 1.87 ERA, 211.1 innings pitched The Rocket has seen his reputation plummet since, but he had been atop the baseball world well into advanced age. At 42, he accomplishes his second career sub-2 ERA season and helps Houston reach its first World Series.


Joe Horlen

Chicago White Sox, 1964: 1.88 ERA, 210.2 innings pitched The relatively little-known Horlen receives some criticism for low stamina and fails to receive votes for AL Cy Young, won by Dean Chance. He posts a 3.11 ERA in 12 MLB seasons, 11 on Chicago's South Side.


Kevin Brown

Florida Marlins, 1996: 1.89 ERA, 233 innings pitched Brown finishes a distant second in NL Cy Young voting behind Atlanta's John Smoltz, although his ERA is over a full run lower. Two years later, however, Brown parlays his success into a then-record seven-year, $105 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Wilbur Wood

Chicago White Sox, 1971: 1.91 ERA, 334 innings pitched After posting an ERA of 1.87 three years earlier out of the bullpen, Wood takes his form to a starter's role. The '71 season begins a string of four straight in which Wood pitches over 300 innings.


Gaylord Perry

Cleveland Indians, 1972: 1.92 ERA, 342.2 innings pitched Viewed by some as controversial for allegedly doctoring the baseball in his 22 big league seasons, Perry keeps hitters guessing in '72. Despite pitching for a weak offensive team that scores an average 2.87 runs in his starts, he wins 24 games and the Cy Young award. He also throws 29 complete games.


John Tudor

St. Louis Cardinals, 1985: 1.93 ERA, 275 innings pitched On May 29, Tudor has an ERA of 3.74 to go with a 1-7 record. From that point forward, he rolls to a 20-1 record and 1.37 ERA. Tudor is finally gassed by Game Seven of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, lasting just 2.1 innings in an 11-0 loss.


Dave McNally

Baltimore Orioles, 1968: 1.95 ERA, 273 innings pitched Another '68 pitching spectacle, McNally completes 18 of his 35 starts and posts a WHIP of 0.842.


Denny McLain

Detroit Tigers, 1968: 1.96 ERA, 336 innings pitched Yet another success story in '68, McLain is the class of the AL. The 24-year-old goes 31-6 with 28 complete games and claims the Cy Young. He wins 24 games with a 2.80 ERA the next year before stumbling to three straight years of at least a 4.28 ERA. He retires at age 28.


Steve Carlton

Philadelphia Phillies, 1972: 1.97 ERA, 346.1 innings pitched In the first of 14+ seasons with Philadelphia after several in St. Louis, Carlton tosses 30 complete games in 41 starts and fans 310 batsmen. He wins the NL Cy Young, offering Philly fanatics a point of pride in an otherwise abysmal 59-win season.


Tommy John

Chicago White Sox, 1968: 1.98 ERA, 177.1 innings pitched Before he becomes associated with the innovative elbow procedure, John is a young phenom in Chicago. He's at his best in '68 (surprise!).


Gary Peters

Chicago White Sox, 1966: 1.98 ERA, 204.2 innings pitched Sandwiched between Joe Horlen and Wilbur Wood on the White Sox timeline, Peters (center) eclipses the 2.00 mark with 11 complete games.


Gary Nolan

Cincinnati Reds, 1972: 1.99 ERA, 176 innings pitched Nolan just barely makes the cut, both in ERA and minimum innings pitched.

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