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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Clayton Kershaw repairs his playoff legacy with Game 5 win

The acceptance phase is the hardest, and that’s where Kershaw, he of the worst October reputation this side of the house that gives out Mounds on Halloween, lives today. He isn’t what he once was, and he doesn’t need to be because what he is impelled the Dodgers to a 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday. The win left the Dodgers one victory shy of their first championship since 1988 and Kershaw oh so close to getting sized for the ring that has eluded none of his pitching peers.

Here’s what Kershaw is: good enough, which is, when one is surrounded by the talent the Dodgers possess, good enough. He is capable of excellence, and he is prone to failure, and he is usually closer to the former than the latter. He is not a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character: Kershaw and October Kershaw, transmogrifying into a fateful creature when the calendar turns. He is flawed, in need of careful handling, prone more to reliability than anything.

He is, in other words, a dad. Every October, it seems, reminds us of that because Kershaw is the sort of father who brings his kids to the podium after good days. In 2017, when he still possessed the blessed arm that flung lightning bolts, Cali first sat alongside him at a postgame news conference. In 2018, Charley joined them. Neither was anywhere to be seen in 2019 because Kershaw wouldn’t dare expose them to the frailty of baseball, which last year damn near broke him. He’d blown a lead, blown a series, and he said: “Everything people say is true right now about the postseason.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 25, 2020 at 12:57 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dodgers, rays, world series

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   1. Rally Posted: October 26, 2020 at 11:05 AM (#5985447)
The win left the Dodgers one victory shy of their first championship since 1988 and Kershaw oh so close to getting sized for the ring that has eluded none of his pitching peers.


Who are his peers? I'd think Greinke is one, he has no ring. He left game 7 with a one run lead and 8 outs to go, but that ring eluded him. Scherzer and Verlander have their rings. Same with Hamels, Price, Sale, and Lester. Felix Hernandez doesn't have one, it's a shame that he never even got to pitch in any postseason game.
   2. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 26, 2020 at 12:05 PM (#5985459)
Halladay never won one.
   3. villageidiom Posted: October 26, 2020 at 03:37 PM (#5985520)
From a rivalry standpoint, I'd imagine Bumgarner was for a decent time considered a peer.
   4. The Duke Posted: October 26, 2020 at 03:38 PM (#5985521)
Are people saying last nights performance changes his label? I didn’t think he pitched well at all. He consistently let the first batter on base and couldn’t execute with two strike counts. He had a workmanlike performance - something you expect your third starter to do during the season.

Credit where credit is due on his defense cutting down the steal of home - that was a great play.

Isn’t he supposed to be one of the best pitchers in baseball?
   5. Lassus Posted: October 26, 2020 at 03:51 PM (#5985528)
He is supposed to be, and he is.
   6. villageidiom Posted: October 26, 2020 at 03:51 PM (#5985529)
Are people saying last nights performance changes his label? I didn’t think he pitched well at all.
The label wasn't that he was imperfect; it was that he was a choker. Really no evidence of that last night.

Every time a subject like this comes up, I'm reminded of John Elway. He was considered the biggest choker ever, until they built a team around him and he won the Super Bowl a couple times. Now there's no mention of a mixed record in the playoffs or whatever. It's like nobody can comprehend a good player not winning a string of postseasons in a team sport, unless it's because of a character flaw. Nearly anyone who was ever considered a playoff choker ended up not being considered that way, so maybe it's not that players are chokers as much as their critics are simpletons.

EDIT: That's not meant as a critique of The Duke, who is pointing out valid stuff about Kershaw's performance last night.
   7. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 26, 2020 at 04:30 PM (#5985534)

I think both the criticism of Kershaw historically as well as the praise now are overblown. The Duke is generally right about his performance last night, although his comments during the game chatter were a bit melodramatic.

Kershaw has generally pitched well in the postseason but made too many mistakes and allowed too many home runs or hits in untimely situations. Last night was kind of the opposite—he labored but got the job done.

Anyway, let’s wait until the end of the series before we declare a verdict either way. If this series goes 7 games I assume we could still see Kershaw one more time in relief — he’s done it before in the postseason.
   8. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 26, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5985557)
It's like nobody can comprehend a good player not winning a string of postseasons in a team sport, unless it's because of a character flaw.
People gots to have their narratives, and a morality play is the tastiest narrative of them all.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: October 26, 2020 at 05:57 PM (#5985563)
Like #7 said ... Kershaw's a "choker" not so much because he doesn't have as many excellent postseason starts as other top starters but because he has too often let game's like yesterday's get away from him (and frequenlty in the 2nd start of a series). He kept it together well enough yesterday to get the win. If he'd done that 3 more times in his career, we probably aren't even having this conversation.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: October 26, 2020 at 06:05 PM (#5985565)
Along these lines I was curious the other day when Pedro Baez floundered. It seemed to me that he'd floundered regularly in the postseason -- which he has but overall before that game his numbers were "decent." What surprised me though was that, to that point, his career postseason was 1-0 with 4 holds in 4 attempts -- i.e. he'd never had a negative "decision" of any kind. He was generally used in lowish-leverage situations and his poor performances coincided with games his team was already behind when he came in (he gave up no runs in his win or any of his 4 holds). So finally on Sat he got hit with a blown save (really a "blown hold") ... and he might have gotten the win if he (and Jansen) had pitched better.
   11. Tom Goes to the Ballpark Posted: October 26, 2020 at 10:21 PM (#5985599)
Baez’s postseason reputation is that he comes in with men on base and then allows them to score. He then he gets out of the inning. Thus the runs are charged to the previous pitcher and his numbers still look good.
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: October 26, 2020 at 10:46 PM (#5985600)
(he gave up no runs in his win or any of his 4 holds)

Baez has allowed all 6 of his postseason inherited runners to score.

he wasn't charged with any of them - but he still gave up 6 runs there, in addition to his 13 ER allowed against his own record in 28.6 IP.

that's..... not good
   13. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 26, 2020 at 10:47 PM (#5985601)
Who are his peers? I'd think Greinke is one, he has no ring. He left game 7 with a one run lead and 8 outs to go, but that ring eluded him.

Not sure he counts, but two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber also started a Game 7 that his team lost, and unlike Greinke they were trailing when he was pulled and bailed him out of a loss later.
   14. baxter Posted: October 27, 2020 at 01:21 AM (#5985612)
Agree w/4 & 9; but I can't agree the criticism is overblown. One nit pick on 4, a workmanlike performance in the series is a much tougher stage, so I give Kershaw credit for that. Rays are a tough team; did not realize their team hitting was as good as it is; great pitching, good again for Kershaw, he had me on the edge of my seat last night.

I am glad he made it through the game, but laboring is a good descriptor. If Kershaw weren't so good in the regular season, it wouldn't be noticeable. But, generally, he is fantastic during the regular season, not so in the playoffs.

Verlander never has pitched well in the WS; Bumgarner was great in 3 WS.

Agree with the perception (whether accurate or not) of Elway; couldn't win the super bowl, but looking back, how much is his fault? I don't recall the performances being that bad. Also, when he did finally win a couple, he had a truly great RB in Terrell Davis. The image I have of Elway is his jumping over the defense to score a goal line TD, while getting spun around in mid-air.

Maybe Kershaw wins series MVP for winning two games and that's what people will remember about him. Great, he seems like a nice enough fellow.

Of course, the way things can bounce, Arozarena (or some other Ray) may be the MVP for leading the Rays to two straight wins

How is Jim Kelly regarded? Would have won the first one, but for wide right (if that is where it went).

Rick Ankiel deteriorated in performance during the playoffs; it's a testament to his determination and talent that he made it back to the majors as a position player.
   15. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: October 27, 2020 at 08:18 AM (#5985620)
Agree with the perception (whether accurate or not) of Elway; couldn't win the super bowl, but looking back, how much is his fault? I don't recall the performances being that bad. Also, when he did finally win a couple, he had a truly great RB in Terrell Davis. The image I have of Elway is his jumping over the defense to score a goal line TD, while getting spun around in mid-air.

Agree that Elway wasn't going to win the championship until he had a RB like Davis, but in two of those first three SBs he was really bad. Against Washington and SF he had 1 TD/5 picks, completed about a third of his passes, and was sacked a bunch. He was better in the Giants SB (his first) but some of that was garbage time stats.

Still, it's not like Elway was incapable of performing in the big moments (The Drive). He just had a few clunkers against better teams, then successfully rehabilitated his image once he had a better supporting cast.
   16. Moeball Posted: October 28, 2020 at 03:14 AM (#5986030)
Bill James often talks about how when the years go by and people look back at a player's career, the narratives begin to fade away and most of the storytelling comes from the numbers. When Kershaw is up on stage in Cooperstown at some point in the future, people will look back on this year and see he won 2 games in this WS with a 2.31 ERA and think those look like Kershaw kind of numbers.
I wouldn't say this completely changes his reputation but it is a step in the right direction and should be a confidence builder.

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