Clayton Kershaw produced the most dominant postseason start of his career. Yet still, many of the Los Angeles Dodgers faithful likely wish that he would have stayed in longer.
Manny Machado slugged a two-run home run in a 3-0 count in the first inning to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 2-0 lead. Seven innings later, and one Yasmani Grandal home run, and Clayton Kershaw carried a 3-0 lead into the ninth inning.
Kershaw has had a postseason monkey on his back during the Los Angeles Dodgers’ six-year postseason streak. Multiple blown leads and a career 4.35 postseason ERA has had many question if Kershaw could get it done on the big stage.
In his last postseason start, Kershaw squandered a four-run lead in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series. After the Dodgers regained a 7-4 lead, Kershaw put two people on base and Jose Altuve hit a game-tying shot off Kenta Maeda.
The best pitcher of the generation has a noticeable hurdle to overcome. He needs to succeed in October and he needs to win that coveted World Series ring.
Even he knows about his postseason woes.
After watching Hyun-Jin Ryu pitch in Game 1 of the NLDS to ensure normal rest, Kershaw seemed to have a chip on his shoulder.
Two hours and five minutes after Machado exploded Dodger Stadium in cheers, the entire stadium was filled with a chorus of boos, in a game that the Dodgers were winning 3-0 in the ninth inning.
Clayton Kershaw was yanked in the ninth inning in favor of Kenley Jansen. Kershaw has never thrown a complete game in the postseason. While winning Game 2 is imperative, getting a complete game shutout, and a win is the best-case scenario.
So why? Why did Dave Roberts pull his best pitcher, who only had 85 (yes, 85!) pitches after eight innings. There was an obvious analytical answer.
Roberts and the Dodgers wanted the Braves to burn another bench bat. When Tyler Flowers was announced to pinch hit in the ninth inning, the Dodgers turned to Kenley Jansen to make the Braves burn a bat.
That makes sense, but with a three-run lead, a pinch hitter on a team with a poor bench is not a game breaker. Especially considering that Jansen has not been great of late.
And I think that is the most important thing to keep in note. Kenley Jansen needs the reps, needs the confidence and work in a big-game situation. Getting eight scoreless innings out of your ace and a scoreless ninth out of your elite closer is a huge positive takeaway for the Dodgers.
But still, you can’t help but have a negative feeling about the yank. I, for one, typically agree with Roberts on most matters. My opinion does not really matter, I am not making any of these decisions and I am watching from the outside. My opinion seems to be the popular one amongst the fanbase.
Kershaw did not seem too fond of the move at first, either. Let’s remember: Kershaw can opt out of his deal this year and become a free agent. The Dodgers not only yanked him from a shutout with 85 pitches but also did not start him in Game 1.
These are things that can get in someone’s head, whether it was the right move or not. These guys are all human and there is the possibility this could make contract discussions a bit rockier.
To be fair, Kershaw did not seem too bothered with the move after the game in the postgame press conference. Kershaw is a competitor. All he wants is the one thing that has alluded him in his already Hall of Fame career: a World Series ring.
So, Clayton Kershaw, you might not care, but we do. Every fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers wanted to see you go out in the ninth and prove the haters wrong. Hopefully, you are just saving it for the NLCS or even better, the World Series.