Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Uncertain What To Make Of Clayton Kershaw’s Struggles In 7th Inning Of Postseason Starts
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

While Clayton Kershaw has chipped away at the perception he’s incapable of succeeding in the postseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers ace remains haunted by recurring struggles in the seventh inning. Some instances it was in part tied to a managerial decision.

Such was the case against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. Kershaw wasn’t overly sharp and labored through six innings, but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts allowed him to start the seventh.

Kershaw was removed after allowing back-to-back home runs with one out in the inning. “I think that certainly has to be a variable,” Roberts said of Kershaw possibly being pushed beyond exhaustion in multiple playoff starts.

“To discount it entirely is something I don’t like to do with information. More importantly is just watching the game and seeing how Clayton is throwing the baseball on a particular night in the postseason.

“I haven’t dug into every single seventh inning he’s had, but I think some of it has been on the short rest. It’s got him in the seventh inning. And if I recall, it’s been a pitch each inning that gets him. I can’t really speak to all of those (starts).”

When Kershaw pitched a fourth time in nine days during last year’s NLCS, he was stellar at Wrigley Field. The left-hander tossed seven shutout innings, limiting the Cubs to just two hits while striking out six in Game 2.

But pitching into the seventh in Game 6 didn’t net the same results. In his career, Kershaw owns a 25.50 ERA in the seventh inning, and a 1.221 on-base plus slugging percentage in the seventh and later.

He will be on extended rest against the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series. Kershaw last pitched Oct. 6 against the Diamondbacks.

Roberts nonetheless is not inclined to over rely on his ace, even if Kershaw is capable of proving otherwise. “No one wants it more than he does, and no one is going to compete more,” Roberts said.

“To have the guys in the ‘pen that I feel very confident going to, lends itself to not pushing him.”