The Los Angeles Dodgers hand the ball to Clayton Kershaw with their season on the line, which regardless of the result, will add another layer to his complex postseason history. Kershaw has long been tainted as a pitcher incapable of succeeding in October.
On the surface that would appear to be true. But much of Kershaw’s struggles in the postseason are tied to a myriad of issues. He’s started on short rest, been pushed deep into games because of a wobbly bullpen and also been the victim of relievers failing to strand inherited runners.
Mix it all together, and Kershaw enters Game 5 of the World Series with a 9-9 record, 4.28 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 29 postseason games (23 starts). Regardless, Kershaw is a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
He hasn’t won three Cy Young Awards and been named National League MVP by accident. And though it may come with harsh criticism and potentially void of a World Series ring, Kershaw doesn’t have the slightest concern of public opinion.
“I don’t really care about legacy,” he said. “I don’t really care what people think of me or perceive of me. Game 5 is a very important game to win the World Series, and I’m looking forward to pitching that game and hopefully putting us in a great spot going back to Boston.
“And that’s really all I care about. All that other stuff, people are going to have their opinions, you know, and that’s fine. I’m not here to change them. I’m here to pitch. And all that other stuff will take care of itself.”
If Kershaw is able to help keep the Dodgers alive in the World Series, it would be a feather in his cap and potentially set up another opportunity to again pitch in relief of a crucial postseason game.