NLDS Game 4: It All Comes Down to Kersh
It all has come full circle. Clayton Kershaw started the season for the Dodgers back in March in Sydney, and now the Dodgers’ season may come to an end in one final Kershaw start. The ace left-hander led the Dodgers to this point, but this important Kershaw start may be the one which also ends their bid for their long awaited World Championship.
Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 10.80) vs. Shelby Miller
It just isn’t Kershaw who hasn’t been able to come through during this National League Division Series for the Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez, the league leader in RBIs is hitting .167 with just two hits, Dee Gordon is hitting .154 with only one stolen base, Juan Uribe, last year’s NLDS hero, has just 1 hit with 6 strikeouts in the series, and the bullpen… oh the bullpen.
The bullpen has been the Dodger’s Achilles heel this entire season. Other then Kenley Jansen, who has only pitched once this series,
Oct 6, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez (13) reacts after the St. Louis Cardinals won in game three of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game 3-1 at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
is one of the only bullpen members who have been consistent throughout the entire season. If it wasn’t for the Dodgers’ stellar starting pitching, they most likely would have not won the division over the Giants. Who, by the way, are just one win away from another NLCS appearance.
Both left-handers out of the Dodger bullpen, J.P. Howell and Scott Elbert, have both served up game devastating late-inning homeruns to the Cardinals. J.P. Howell allowed two homeruns all season over 68 games, but the postseason is a whole different monster. Howell’s big mistake in Game 2 nearly cost the Dodgers the win if it weren’t for Matt Kemp‘s gorgeous homerun which followed. Scott Elbert, who hails from Missouri ironically, hadn’t allowed a homerun since 2012, but the big two-run shot to Kolten Wong will be ingrained in to our memories forever.
Brian Wilson, Pedro Baez, Carlos Frias, Jamey Wright, Brandon League…do any of those names instill confidence when you read them? All of them have had their share of meltdowns this season. We knew the bullpen was going to be an issue going into this series. That’s why Don Mattingly didn’t take out Clayton Kershaw earlier in Game 1. The bullpen isn’t as good as last season, and the Dodgers didn’t make any major moves to bolster it before heading down the stretch.
I’m in no way advocating for the Dodgers to have traded Joc Pederson or one of their top prospects for a volatile reliever. Yet, I feel there could have been something done in order to back up their excellent starting staff going into the postseason. Clayton Kershaw’s shoulders simply cannot bear the weight of the entire team, although he sure has tried.
Kershaw will get one last opportunity to halt the Red Birds and send this series back to Los Angeles. The Dodgers are desperate. They will need to pull out all the stops tomorrow. Kenley will pitch. Even if the Dodgers aren’t ahead, you bet Kenley will pitch. There’s no tomorrow when you are on the ropes. The time is now. The Dodgers must win this game in order to force St. Louis back on to their plane and make them beat the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine. Zack Greinke will be on tap to pitch Game 5, and his Game 2 gem cemented his ace status for the Dodgers.
They can do this. They must do this.
Please tell me they can do this.
Shelby Miller will be going to the mound for the Cardinals. Miller will be making his first postseason start this year. He pitched 1 inning in last year’s NLDS versus Pittsburgh and 3 1/3 innings against the Giants in the 2012 NLCS. The 23-year old right-hander went 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA against the Dodgers this season in 2 games (1 start). Overall, Miller is 1-1 with a 6.57 ERA against the Dodgers in 5 career games (3 starts).
Adrian Gonzalez has hit Miller well in the past with 4 hits including a homerun in 7 at-bats.
Prediction: Yasiel Puig comes up with big RBI clutch hit.
Don Mattingly has also neglected the hot bat of Justin Turner who was phenomenal for the Dodgers this season. He should put him at third or second in order to bolster the offense since Uribe and Gordon aren’t hitting. Andre Ethier has also been riding the pine while Puig is busy striking out. I’m not for benching Puig, but Mattingly needs to do a little lineup shakeup on Tuesday to get some ginger power into the mix. If anything, Justin Turner has earned a postseason start for the Dodgers after giving them a bonafide pinch-hitter off the bench and overall excellent season performance.
The Dodger season is on the brink. We’ve been on this long journey for many tumultuous months, and now it all comes down to this. It just can’t end like this. Not like this.
In Kershaw We Trust.