All eyes were on Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Clayton Kershaw Tuesday night during Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the New York Mets. Fans and critics alike were locked in to see if the reigning NL MVP and three-time Cy Young Award winner would crumble or find success starting on short rest.
The southpaw responded with a gem. In seven innings of work Kershaw allowed three hits, one run, issued one walk, and had eight strikeouts in an eventual 3-1 Dodgers victory. According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Kershaw had several motivations before the game including proving manager Don Mattingly made the correct decision on a Game 4 starter, and getting the ball to Zack Greinke for Game 5:
Definitely wanted to send this back to L.A.,” he said. “I feel confident with Zack going in Game 5 back home. So really just wanted to push it. I really wanted to win tonight, definitely. For a lot of reasons, but obviously most important was just to give Zack a chance. But yeah, it felt good to prove Donnie [manager Don Mattingly] right, I guess, and get that opportunity.”
Although some may have been skeptical of how Kershaw would pitch as his postseason résumé wasn’t exactly stellar, he had a large hand in salvaging the Dodgers’ season. Before his Game 4 start, Kershaw had a 1-1 record with a 2.25 ERA and 0.83 WHIP when going on short rest.
With Kershaw getting the postseason monkey off his back, it’s now on Greinke to help send the Dodgers to the NL Championship Series for a date with the Chicago Cubs. Los Angeles will get another look at Jacob deGrom, who had 13 strikeouts in the Game 1 duel opposite Kershaw.