Clayton Kershaw not agreeing with being removed from a game isn’t any sort of new revelation or development. However, his display of frustration matched the warm temperature at Dodger Stadium on Thursday afternoon, and was caught on camera.
Kershaw passionately lobbied — er, argued — with manager Don Mattingly to remain in the game as he’d only thrown 80 pitches through five innings. Mattingly stood his ground and pinch-hit for his ace to leadoff the bottom of the fifth.
The Dodgers, trailing 3-0 at the time to the Arizona Diamondbacks, scored six runs in the inning en route to a win. Mattingly brushed off the exchange in his postgame interview, while Kershaw essentially did the same, though by refusing to discuss the matter.
A more reflective Kershaw opened up a bit to tell Bill Plunkett of the OC Register he likely overreacted and it was possibly the most upset he’s ever been:
It was a display (caught on camera) that Kershaw acknowledged a day later was an extreme reaction even for him. “Yeah, possibly. Yeah, probably,” Kershaw said Friday. “Obviously, I didn’t agree with the decision. I think that was probably the most agitated I’ve been this year, probably any other year too.”
By now any variation of asking Kershaw whether he wanted to be removed from a game or felt tired isn’t necessary as his answers rarely deviate from some version of “no.” He’s acknowledged Kenley Jansen’s value and importance of allowing him to close games out, but it’s clear Kershaw feels a sense of responsibility to lessen the load for his teammates.
With the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the National League West down to two entering play Saturday, Kershaw’s next scheduled start — Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park — may have no bearing on the division.
However, the Dodgers are also locked in a battle with the New York Mets for home-field advantage in the expected NL Division Series matchup. Kershaw’s final start is expected to come on the last day of the regular season.