Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw’s Holds the Keys to Bring the Dodgers Home With a Lead

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 06: Clayton Kershaw
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 06: Clayton Kershaw /

The Dodgers evened the series last night with an offensive explosion at the top of the 9th. Now, the focus shifts to tonight’s game where aces’ Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw will rematch what was an incredible pitchers duel in game one. This game will have a whole new importance as well as a task for Kershaw that must be completed.

Game one was a masterpiece. Kershaw spun 7+ masterful innings where he gave up only three hits and one run while striking out 11 batters. He cut through the Astros’ lineup with ease and sent his Dodgers into game two with a one to nothing lead in the series.

Tonight, Kershaw faces a new challenge. With the series tied at two, apiece Kershaw has the opportunity to send the team back to Los Angeles with a three to two lead and send the Astros to LA with cold bats.

The Astros are a team of serious highs and serious lows. Even in the regular season, they showed the baseball world that one hot game would lead to another and one cold game could cause a disastrous stretch. In game two of this series, the Astros gained momentum. Bullpen pitcher Ross Stripling said, “we let their bats get hot” and it was that momentum that helped carry the Astros to an explosive game three victory.

That is where Kershaw will prove to be so important tonight. Besides the apparent necessity of giving the team a chance to win, Clayton Kershaw must attack the Astros’ lineup in a way that stifles their bats and kills whatever momentum they have before coming here for game six.

In the worst case scenario, if Kershaw does lose, the Astros will come here with a full head of steam as they just defeated the best pitcher in baseball and will only have Rich Hill to get passed for their first World Series win. That is the momentum that Kershaw cannot afford to give up.

Key to success:

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Kershaw must keep the pitch count down and go deep in the game. The bullpen is still fairly taxed and I’m sure Dave Roberts would love nothing more than a nice long start from his ace. Ideally, Clayton can go far enough into this game where there will only be one pitcher between himself and Kenley.

Second, Kershaw must shut down the four key batters in the Astros lineup: George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa. While the rest of their team is still seriously dangerous, those four batters are the keys to wins and losses for the Astros.

As the Dodgers saw last night if Altuve is down, the Astros are down. And getting to him first may be the way to win tonight’s game.

Finally, and probably the most obvious of my three-step plan is avoid the long ball. The Astros are at there best when they are getting fastballs in the upper third of the zone. So far, all but two home runs that the Astros have hit in this series came up pitches that were up. If Kershaw can keep the ball down and stay breaking ball-heavy he could very well run into the same success as he experienced in game one.

Next: Dodgers Take Game 4

In the end, Kershaw’s holds the keys to a Dodger victory. He put all the playoff critics to rest in game one and now needs to add to that narrative. He has the opportunity to send the Dodgers home with a 3-2 lead. I wouldn’t want anyone else on the mound tonight. In Kershaw we trust.