McHugh, pitching with little safety net because the Rockies have to preserve relievers just to get through the season-ending series with the Dodgers, absorbed eight runs on nine hits in four long innings of an 11-0 loss at Dodger Stadium.
The Rockies, who were on the wrong end of eight Kershaw strikeouts in six scoreless innings, also were saddled with their second straight National League West last-place finish. It's the first time in the Rockies' 21 seasons that they've had consecutive basement finishes.
Manager Walt Weiss had to save pitchers because he has scratched right-hander Tyler Chatwood from Sunday's start because of right elbow soreness. It's possible Sunday will be a bullpen-relay day. So the best hope Friday was for McHugh (0-3) to match the lefty Kershaw (16-9).
Kershaw did his part. The performance gave him a final regular-season ERA of 1.83. Kershaw, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2011 and is the favorite to take it this year, became the first Dodgers pitcher since Sandy Koufax in 1963, 1964 and 1966 to finish a season with a sub-2.00 ERA. He finished with 232 strikeouts in 236 innings pitched, and will be a big part of the NL West champion's playoff hopes. He'll start Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday.
"I don't think there's a whole lot of doubt there," Weiss said when asked if Kershaw is his Cy Young choice. "He's had a great year. Command and stuff, he puts them both together. And there's some deception. He's the complete package, and he's left-handed on top of it. He's as good as there is in our league."
Rockies rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado went one better.
"If I had a vote, he'd be Cy Young and possible MVP, if you really think about it," Arenado said. "He's one of the best pitchers. It's pretty crazy what he can do."
This is the third straight year Kershaw has led the NL in ERA.
"I definitely try not to take that lightly," Kershaw said. "It's a huge honor, obviously. But right now, there's not that much time to think back. You've just got to keep going and keep pushing forward. There will be a time to look back on everything. But now is definitely not the time."
The Dodgers pasted McHugh for four runs and five hits, including Juan Uribe's two-run double, in the first inning. Adrian Gonzalez added his 23rd homer of the season, a solo shot in the third, and Carl Crawford's sixth homer of the season was good for three runs in the fourth.
"The Dodgers didn't miss much tonight," Weiss said. "Anything that had a lot of plate, they squared up. Collin didn't get away with much."
McHugh began the season with the Mets, bouncing between the Majors and Triple-A Las Vegas before he was traded to the Rockies for outfielder Eric Young Jr. on July 27. He spent most of his time with the Rockies at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but has made three starts for the Rockies this month. The first was five innings and one run against the Cardinals. In the last two, he has given up nine runs and 20 hits in nine innings.
"It's been a long year for me, my wife, my family," McHugh said. "It's hard to say what's going to happen next year. That's baseball. I really like it here, like the guys, like the organization and I think we'll put a quality product on the field. I would love to be a part of that."
Rockies reliever Jeff Manship gave up five hits, including A.J. Ellis' two-run homer, and three runs in 1 2/3 innings. Friday marked the most runs the Dodgers have scored in a home game while shutting out the opponent since they beat the D-backs, 11-0, on July 7, 2004.
The Rockies removed veteran first baseman Todd Helton, who retires after the season ends on Sunday, and All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki after three hitless at-bats apiece. Helton, 40, pushed himself to his feet slowly and appeared to be limping after diving for a grounder, but Weiss said he wasn't hurt.
"He's OK," Weiss said. "He's just a little old."
NL batting leader Michael Cuddyer went 0-for-4 and finished the night at .333 -- nine points ahead of the Braves' Chris Johnson, the next closest hitter.