Postseason Woes Continue for Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Postseason Woes
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, but his postseason performances have not been as great as his regular season performances. Most Los Angeles Dodgers fans are excited to see Clayton Kershaw pitch, even in the postseason. But Saturday night’s playoff game saw the legendary hurler’s performance end abruptly. In fact, it was the shortest outing of Kershaw’s career.

The game began with a misplayed ball by rookie center fielder James Outman on the second pitch of Game One of the NLDS to Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte. Marte swatted the ball to left-center and Outman made an attempt to catch it, but the ball spun out of Outman’s glove and he attempted to catch it with his throwing hand. But he failed to snag it and the ball hit the ground, which ushered in a night of let downs for Dodger fans– and for Kershaw in particular. What seemed like an error was actually a double for Marte and Kershaw’s playoff ERA took a hit as a result.

Clayton Kershaw in the Postseason

This is nothing new for the Dodgers’ perennial ace. In 194 1/3 innings of postseason ball, Clayton Kershaw’s ERA is 4.49, which is two full points higher than his career ERA in the regular season of 2.48. His WHIP in the postseason is 1.200 for his career while his regular season WHIP is a microscopic 1.004. The legendary lefty is reminiscent of Peyton Manning in the NFL, who was a legendary quarterback in the regular season, but was not as good in the playoffs. Kershaw does have one World Series title under his belt while Manning has two Super Bowl wins– the second of which was at the end of his career in a low scoring game where he was not much of a factor.
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Kershaw hopes to regain his regular season form if the Dodgers are in the postseason long enough for him to throw again. In 131 2/3 innings this season, Kershaw’s statistics were reminiscent of his career stats. His ERA was 2.46 while his WHIP was 1.063. Kershaw’s strikeouts per nine innings were just under his career average at 9.4 (9.8 career) and his walks per nine innings were a half of a point over his career mark at 2.7 (2.2 career). His home runs per nine innings were also slightly elevated this season when compared to his career mark, which was 1.3 (0.7 career). His hits per nine innings matched his career average at 6.8.

Similar Numbers, Different Results

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In the postseason, Kershaw’s numbers are actually not much different than his regular season numbers. His postseason strikeouts per nine innings are 9.9, which is slightly above his regular season average of 9.8. But Clayton Kershaw walks more batters and gives up more hits in the postseason. His hits per nine innings are 7.6 in the postseason, which is above his regular season mark of 6.8. His walks per nine innings are also slightly elevated in the playoffs at 2.4 versus his regular season mark of 2.2. These stats both add to his career WHIP in the postseason, which is 1.111 (1.004 regular season). His home runs per nine innings in the postseason are double his regular season mark at 1.4 (0.7 regular season).

What is truly amazing is that Kershaw’s batting average on balls in play (BAbip) and overall batting average allowed are both similar to his career numbers. In 29 postseason appearances, Kershaw’s BAbip is .276 versus his career regular season mark of .273. His batting average allowed is only .225 in the postseason while his career regular season mark is only .209. So both statistics are not high by any stretch of the imagination.

None of Clayton Kershaw’s playoff numbers are terrible, with the exception of his ERA, which is not Kershaw-like at all. Relative to other pitchers, his postseason ERA is just plain average– perhaps a bit below average. So you may be wondering why his playoff ERA is relatively high. The answer is allowing more hits and home runs as well as bad luck not only with fielding, but with scoring.

The Misplayed Ball

Outman’s misplayed ball in center field could easily have been scored an error. In fact, it probably should have been an error. He did not dive or slide to make an attempt at the catch, but the ball popped out of his glove and landed on the ground nonetheless. There’s no telling what would have happened if Outman made the catch, or how many runs would have been charged to Kershaw had the play been scored an error rather than a double.

Either way, Kershaw had a bad outing. He gave up six runs (all earned), on six hits including a three-run home run to Gabriel Moreno, and walked one batter in only 1/3 of an inning. He threw 35 pitches in that 1/3 of an inning, 25 of which were strikes. The Diamondbacks were simply better than Kershaw was on Saturday whether the first batted ball of the game was misplayed or not. Arizona simply made contact with Kershaw’s pitches and a lot of them dropped in for hits.

Whether Kershaw’s performance was good or bad, Dodger fans ought to look forward to seeing him throw again. Hopefully the next postseason performance from Clayton Kershaw does not begin with thoughts of “Oh no” or “Not again” from Dodger fans like Saturday’s game. But no matter what happens, Clayton Kershaw will always be one of the greatest to ever set foot on a MLB mound.

Looking Forward to NLDS Game Two

The Dodgers hope to rebound from the devastating 11-2 loss to the Diamondbacks in Game One. The 24-year-old rookie righty Bobby Miller (11-4, 3.76 ERA, 1.102 WHIP) takes the mound against veteran righty Zac Gallen (17-9, 3.47 ERA, 1.119 WHIP) on Monday night at 6:07 pm Pacific. Both hurlers have been excellent this season for their respective clubs. In this best of five series, it takes three wins to move on to the NLCS. The Dodgers are down 0-1 in the series to the Diamondbacks and have one more game at Chavez Ravine before heading to Arizona for at least one game– two if necessary.


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Chris Gray

Chris Gray

Chris is a writer, philosopher, and web developer. He is currently the Web Developer as well as an Editor and Contributor for SportRelay.

When Chris was young, he played Little League Baseball for years. In addition, he used to look at the statistics on baseball cards to compare the different players and trade the cards with his friends. As a teenager, he worked as a Computer Technician until he landed a position as a Network Administrator at a middle school in Los Angeles, California.

Feeling unfulfilled with a lack of education to combine with his work and life experience, he returned to school, obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from UCLA, and now spends his time writing, investing, thinking, programming, and enjoying baseball.

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