For all that Clayton Kershaw has accomplished in his career, before turning 30 years old no less, he’s been dogged by whispers of being unable to succeed in the postseason. He’s put some of that to bed this October, and can drive the final nail through the coffin in the World Series.
While this is the grandest stage Kershaw has been on, he’s certainly no stranger to bright lights. The left-handed ace has been on the mound for notable losses in the postseason, but also shining moments — Game 5 of last year’s National League Division Series, and Game 5 of this year’s Championship Series.
Kershaw has always been one to revel in the team’s accomplishments, even if it’s a fifth consecutive NL West title that was clinched. He’s also vowed to learn from missteps.
Heading into his Game 1 start in the World Series, Kershaw’s only focus is on the Houston Astros.
“I wish I could let it all sink in,” he said of enjoying the World Series moment. “But in order for me to do my job, I think I just have to focus on getting the Astros out right now.
“We’ve had a few days now to let that sink in and we’re not satisfied with that now. We got to celebrate and got to enjoy it, and now it’s real. We have an opponent. We’ve go four more games to win.”
Prior to the Dodgers’ Game 5 win in the NLCS, the deepest Kershaw had reached in the postseason was a Game 6 — twice — in which he was on the mound and took the loss as Los Angeles watched their opponent celebrate an NL pennant.
When the Dodgers eliminated the Cubs, manager Dave Roberts was among those to highlight what the moment meant for Kershaw. Since being hired by the Dodgers, Roberts has regularly touched on nuances that make Kershaw who he is.
“I think the fans get cheated on not getting the opportunity to see him in between starts,” Roberts said on the eve of the World Series beginning. “Because I think that we as fans can appreciate him every fifth day, and the energy and the emotion and the success that he’s had on the field.
“But to be behind the scenes and to watch him work so diligently, with detail, every single day, that’s something that for me I marvel at. To not only get to a certain plateau, but to want to strive to be better. That consistency that he’s shown over the course of his entire career, that now has sort of affected, impacted, his teammates, not only the starting pitchers, but the position players.”
Already boasting the resume of a Hall-of-Famer, Kershaw’s first step to once and for all erasing doubts begins Tuesday. And perhaps within the next week, there will be room for reflection.
“After the season is over we’ll look back on it, and hopefully have a World Series trophy to celebrate,” Kershaw said. “We’ll wait for all the reflection stuff until after the season.”