It didn't take long for the air to be deflated out of Dodgers Stadium on Saturday night. Just minutes after the first pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks the Dodgers were trailing. After several more painful moments, Clayton Kershaw was exiting the came to a chorus of boos.
Kershaw allowed five runs without getting an out, ultimately recording just one out in his start with six earned runs. Emmett Sheehan had to come in and play mop-up duty. By the time the top of the second inning was over, the Dodgers were trailing 9-0.
The only good thing about this disaster on Saturday night was the fact that it happened in Game 1 of a five-game series. There is a lot of baseball left to play and the Dodgers will look to do what the San Diego Padres did to them last year and win the next three games.
If the Dodgers can't stretch the series to a fifth game then fans won't see Kershaw pitch against this postseason. It might be bigger than that, though, as there is no guarantee that Kershaw ever takes an MLB mound again.
Clayton Kershaw's Dodgers future is up in the air after NLDS disaster
This postseason blow-up felt different from the others. This wasn't just a bad outing for Kershaw, this was a culmination of multiple months of the team telling everyone who would listen that Kershaw was not 100%.
Kershaw has been dealing with a lingering shoulder issue that seems to be related to his age and the miles on his body more than anything else. The future Hall of Fame southpaw has seen a dip in his velocity for several years now but it has gotten to the point where it is a big deal if he touches 90 MPH. Ironically enough, Kershaw actually hit 91 MPH on Saturday.
But the stuff simply was not there. Kershaw could not generate swings and misses while allowing extremely loud contact. Lourdes Gurriel Jr's 96.7 MPH groundout was the softest contact that Kershaw allowed.
So what is next for Kershaw? He has made it very clear that even he does not know the answer to that question. Kershaw has taken it year by year with the Dodgers. If he doesn't find the mound again it is impossible to pinpoint how he will feel. Will this be his message that it is time to call it a career? Or will he come back for vengeance (while also looking for his 3,000th strikeout)?
If he does come back, will it even be with the Dodgers? Kershaw has admitted that there are only two teams he would play for: the Dodgers and his hometown Texas Rangers. Will the Dodgers finally hesitate to pay Kershaw and let the Rangers outbid them? Will they be willing to pay for another season of 130 innings and a potential playoff meltdown?
There are a lot of questions about Clayton Kershaw's future. Whether or not he plays in 2024, Dodgers fans everywhere should hope that this isn't the last time they see him in Dodger Blue.