Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was let down tremendously by his bullpen (and manager!) in Game 4.
Just because the game got out of hand after Kershaw departed, and just because he felt his back tighten to the point that his regularly-scheduled start was delayed, does not absolve him of blame in this situation.
He was asked to deliver, matched Bryse Wilson (who?) for five innings, then could not face the heart of the order one additional time. Fully-formed legends are able to do such things. Kershaw, we did not believe would deliver in this scenario. The table was not set exactly right, but it was set nonetheless.
But ignoring his reputation, Kershaw performed admirably on Thursday.
And, as is often the case, the people who paraded in after him did not.
As it stands, the quantifiable stats back up this assertion … a little too well. Time and again, Kershaw departs with men on base in the playoffs. And at a remarkable rate, far above the norm, those men score thanks to someone else’s negligence.
Yes, Dodgers relievers in October have not prevented a runner they’ve inherited from Clayton Kershaw from scoring in the past five years.
Oh, how we yearn for those days against the Mets, when only 2/3 of the inherited runners scored in Game 1! What a boon!
Of course, Kershaw’s playoff legacy is pockmarked by his own malfeasance; Kershaw and only Kershaw was left on the mound to languish in the 2014 NLDS, for example. And every time we believe he’s extinguished this narrative, it fights back doubly like a trick birthday candle.
But you cannot argue with a straight face that Kershaw is the sole problem with the Dodgers, nor is he the sole problem with his own poor playoff starts. This stat’s jarring, but you’ve got to admit, it matches the eye test.
When one Dodgers-related thing fails, the whole enterprise generally buckles, taking our ace along with it.