Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is considered the best pitcher on the planet. After three Cy Young awards, an NL MVP and countless honors, it’s hard to argue against that point.
However, there is one thing that has eluded Kershaw in his career: success in the postseason.
In October baseball, the Dodgers ace is 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 11 games (eight starts). In last season’s NLDS, Kershaw was cruising in Game 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals before allowing six hits and six earned runs in the seventh inning. Then in Game 4, the left-hander was cruising until the seventh inning, where he allowed a three-run home run to Matt Adams.
Kershaw proceeded to start this season with some struggles, allowing more than three runs in five of his first 10 starts. He recovered from that and now sits at 15-7 with a 2.25 ERA and an MLB-leading 281 strikeouts, joining teammate Zack Greinke as a Cy Young candidate.
Catcher and best friend A.J. Ellis was there for his ace’s struggles and knew his fortunes would change via Mark Saxon of ESPN LA:
He knew you couldn’t rush the season; he had to go about the process,” catcher A.J. Ellis said. “He didn’t get off to the start everyone expected, but he was able to right the ship and, in my opinion, become the most dominant pitcher in baseball the last three or four months of the season.”
The Dodgers are closing in on their third straight division title and another chance for Kershaw to change his story. Ellis believes the 27-year-old will get the job done:
Now we’re getting closer to the playoffs and, hopefully, he’ll have some chances to go out and confidently throw some really good games.”
That begins on Tuesday night, as the Dodgers send their ace to the mound against Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants looking for one win to clinch the division. Kershaw and the Dodgers have yet to beat Bumgarner this season.