Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015): I don’t really know if there’s a right or wrong answer to this question. I can certainly see both sides and believe Mattingly was in an extremely difficult position.
What would everyone say had he pulled Kershaw only for the bullpen to give up the lead? Kershaw’s pitch count was exorbitantly high, but perhaps the heat was a factor. Kershaw is the unquestioned leader of the pitching staff and he’s worked himself out jams before, so there wasn’t much reason to doubt him.
Kershaw didn’t lead the Majors in wins, ERA and other stats this season by accident. Mattingly has put his faith in Kershaw before and come up aces. Friday just wasn’t one of those instances. You live and you learn.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4):If there was a pitcher to get out of a bases loaded, no out jam, the safe bet would be on Kershaw. All season long he was dominant, and was on Friday before the ill-fated seventh inning.
Before giving up the home run to Carpenter in the sixth, Kershaw had retired 16 Cardinals in a row. So when he give up three consecutive singles to begin the seventh to load the bases, the safe bet would be that he would get out of the jam with zero to minimal damage done.
Kershaw’s pitch count wasn’t a concern as it was only at 89 when Matt Adams came to the plate with no outs and the bases loaded. During the season, Kershaw failed to get to that mark only twice. Even with J.P. Howell warmed up, the decision to leave Kershaw was the right one at the time, which unfortunately didn’t work out in rare fashion.
Jared Massey (@JaredJMassey):The Dodgers had their ace on the mound in Game 1 and were convinced he would lead them to victory. For six innings, it appeared that would be the case, but Kershaw began falling apart in the seventh.
His stuff was still there, as he was still touching 95mph in his final inning, but his location was not. He repeatedly missed over the fat part of the plate, leading to four straight singles and a run. That would have been a good time to pull Kershaw, but Mattingly didn’t have many options.
It was too early to put in Kenley Jansen and the rest of the bullpen has been unreliable. So, Mattingly decided to stick with his ace, who would allow two more hits, including a bases-clearing double. Bringing in Howell after Adams’ single would have made a lot of sense, but Mattingly wanted to trust his ace. Unfortunately, it backfired.