With the start of postseason just a couple of weeks away, the Los Angeles Dodgers are currently in the process of figuring out their final roster decisions and getting their key players in peak shape for another October run.
Friday night at Dodger Stadium marked Clayton Kershaw’s penultimate regular-season start, and it was not his best. Kershaw gave up a trio of home runs and four runs total in his first four innings of work.
The last-place Colorado Rockies jumped out to a 4-1 lead over the seven-time reigning National League West champions. But the Dodgers’ potential Game 1 postseason starter eventually settled in and their offense came alive, resulting in a 12-5 come-from-behind victory.
Kershaw was able to get through six innings, allowing eight hits and four runs to earn his team-leading 15th win of the season. He struck out five while walking just one, throwing 99 pitches.
Despite being able to settle in and get the win, Kershaw was not happy with how he performed Friday considering the postseason is on the horizon, via SportsNet LA:
“Not a lot of good tonight on my part. Pretty bad all the way around: command-wise, stuff-wise, crispness, everything. It wasn’t very good. Don’t know why, but need to get better obviously. Have one more to figure it out before the real thing gets going. Thankful for that one more to figure it out.”
The longball has plagued Kershaw this season as he has given up a career-high 28 home runs. Ten of those have come in the first inning, where he has struggled to the tune of a 6.00 ERA in his 27 starts.
Kershaw is not sure why he has struggled so much in the first inning this season and isn’t actively doing anything specific in effort to solve the issue:
“I cannot (explain first-inning struggles). No, not particularly (looking for solution). Make better pitches, I guess.”
Kershaw’s career ERA in the first inning is 2.73, so it isn’t something that has typically been a problem for him in years past. It may just be a coincidence that it has happened so many times this season, but it definitely will be something to keep an eye on in October when the stakes are at its highest.
The lefty will have one final regular-season outing as a postseason tuneup, presumably on Thursday against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Game 1 of the NL Division Series for the Dodgers is scheduled for the following Thursday, Oct. 3.