Clayton Kershaw went 1-0 in two starts against the St. Louis Cardinals this season, with the Los Angeles Dodgers also winning the game he had a no-decision in.
While Kershaw came out on the right side of the column against the Cardinals in 2014, it hasn’t necessarily offset the loss the Cardinals handed him in Game 6 of the 2013 NL Championship Series.
The Dodger ace acknowledged players are remembered for World Series wins and what they do in the postseason, and also added he doesn’t need to keep a loss in mind in order to be motivated, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times:
I don’t need anything to drive me. I don’t need a loss to make me more motivated.”
One of the few flaws and criticism Kershaw faces is his subpar postseason results. His first experience in the playoffs came when he was a rookie and served as a reliever in the 2008 NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies; this year marks his fifth trip to the postseason.
Despite missing one month due to inflammation in his upper back, Kershaw will take the mound Friday after completing a season in which he led the Majors in wins, WHIP, ERA and WAR. The ERA title was his fourth straight — the first time any pitcher has accomplished the feat in MLB history.
As they did last year, the Dodgers will rely heavily on their ace in the postseason. The bullpen isn’t as strong as the 2013 version was, which places Kershaw under additional pressure to pitch deep into his starts. Taking into account he did routinely did just that in the regular season, it may not be an issue.
Also working in Kershaw’s favor is the month he missed resulted in him pitching less than 200 innings for the first time since 2009. Coinciding with the lighter workload, Kershaw has said he doesn’t feel fatigued, which could be a factor if the Dodgers need him to start on short rest in the NLDS.