-Alex Fry (‘19)
Following a Game 7 loss in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers will go into the offseason with many questions about their franchise. Can they maintain their regular season success? Will teams figure out Cody Bellinger during his second year? But, most importantly, can the Dodgers ever win a World Series with Clayton Kershaw?
Kershaw’s struggles in the postseason has been well-documented throughout the league. For a pitcher who pitches on an elite level every regular season, he seems to disappear in the playoffs. He holds a league-best 2.07 ERA over the past seven years and is also in the top ten in both wins and WHIP. In the postseason, though, he has a less than impressive 4.35 ERA and has only won seven out of his 14 games. This postseason was no different for Kershaw.
The Dodgers may have won in all of his appearances leading up to the World Series, but Kershaw was still not quite himself. He gave up a decent seven runs in 17 innings pitched, but he also had outstanding run support, as the Dodgers scored 22 runs during Kershaw’s starts. When Kershaw took the mound for the first game of the World Series, he pitched a gem, giving up only one earned run in seven innings. It seemed as though Kershaw had put his struggles behind him. But when it mattered most, Kershaw faltered. In Game 5 of the World Series, Kershaw’s final start of the season, the Dodgers bursted out the gate with a four-run lead. All Kershaw had to do was pitch a conservative game and not give up the comfortable advantage. But the pressure proved to be too much for Kershaw, as he gave up four runs in the fourth inning. The Dodgers then preceded to score another three runs an inning later, but Kershaw’s downfall continued, as he gave up another two runs and was eventually pulled from the game. The Astros then went on to win 13-12 in a game for the ages for a crucial win on the road. Kershaw did pitch four scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 of the World Series, but it was not that significant, as the Astros already had a four-run lead at the time.
In the end, when evaluating a pitcher’s career, it is important to look at his postseason performances. Kershaw’s regular season career is perhaps one of the best in MLB history. But when he enters into the truly important portion of the season, he wavers. For now, and perhaps forever, the postseason will be an ugly scar on Kershaw’s legacy.