Clearly a no brainer here for Dave Roberts, but the Dodgers are privileged to roll out the game’s best starting pitcher in any series to start game one. Should the Dodgers find themselves in the Wild Card play-in game, Kershaw will get the ball, and the Dodgers will be favorites to advance.
The question about Kershaw has never been on his regular season dominance, but rather his postseason fall off. They say legends are defined when they are in the most intense situations. And perhaps for Kershaw, this has been the only blemish on his young, successful career.
Kershaw owns a career 4.55 ERA with a 4-7 record in 14 postseason starts. Eye-opening numbers for a pitcher who has a career 2.36 ERA during the regular season. But there’s reason for optimism for Kershaw this upcoming postseason.
Last postseason, Kershaw had an improved postseason. With a 2-1 record and a 4.42 ERA in 21 1/3 innings, it’s hard to see that as improved for Kershaw. But he showed more poise than in past postseasons and was only a few outs away from having dominant stat lines. Kershaw even recorded his first career save on one day rest to secure the NLDS for Dave Roberts. Kershaw averaged six innings per start and had a 1.2K/9 rate against two powerhouse offenses.
Kershaw’s legacy is not going to fall on the accolades he’s accumulated young ten-year career. He has an MVP, 3 Cy Youngs, 4 ERA titles, and will continue to accumulate more. What he needs is a World Series ring, and in my opinion, he’s never had a more well-rounded, talented team to do it until this season.
I attest Kershaw’s struggles in the postseason to him simply trying too hard. He’s the Dodgers biggest competitor, and while that’s a great quality to have, it can also be your greatest enemy. This postseason could be the postseason where the team behind Kershaw allows him to settle in and be the dominant pitcher that he is without needing to be perfect.