The Los Angeles Dodgers will start Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the 2018 World Series tonight. The Dodgers ace has made 28 postseason appearances (22 starts) compiling a 9-8 record with a 4.09 ERA. History reveals Kershaw has not had the same success in the postseason as he has over his 11-year career in the majors (153-69, 2.39 ERA).
On Monday, Kershaw met the media to discuss his past experience, the evolution of the startinng pitchers role in the postseason and pursuing his first World Series title.
CLAYTON KERSHAW Q&A
As you look at the way the game has evolved in the last few years, do you wonder at all if pitchers like you, starting pitchers, 20-win pitchers, will become somewhat extinct in the next ten years?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: People are going to need starting pitchers. I think it’s a very cost-effective thing to do, obviously, to bullpen and have a deep bullpen, because starting pitchers are more expensive and things like that. But I think us as an organization, us as a union, will definitely have to take a closer look at that, if that’s the way the game is going. Because I think everybody should be compensated according to what they are worth in the game, so if the bullpen is going to have more value, they’re going to have to pay them more. I think that’s just the bottom line. To answer your question, you’re still going to need to get innings from your starters. You saw the Brewers do that very effectively. But over the course of 162 games you’re going to need guys to pitch six or seven innings.
I believe you touched on it in the NLCS, when you think about the World Series and winning one, and the list of things you’ve accomplished, the list of things the team has accomplished the last six years, how critical of a piece is the ring, is winning it all?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: It’s critical. I really want to win the World Series. I think that’s no different than the other 50 guys in both locker rooms, though. I think the only difference maybe is that because we’ve gotten so close in the past, because we’ve gotten to go to the postseason, we’re a little bit spoiled in our expectations every year with the Dodgers, which is a great thing. Realistically going into Spring Training every team says they want to win a World Series but realistically that’s probably not an option for at least half the teams. So for us when we say it, we really mean it. When we go to the postseason six times in a row, it becomes that much more evident that we’re very fortunate to be on a great team, but we’re still missing that ring. There’s no secret that we want to win.
Is it anymore difficult to spin the ball in the cold?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: I think as a starting pitcher you get pretty loose, pretty warm before the game, and then the trick is to try and stay loose in between innings. But once you’re out there and once you’re loose, there’s really not that much of a difference between warm and cold. Obviously, I haven’t pitched in the cold very much, done it a few times.
Is it part of your process to look across at who the opposing pitcher is? And can you appreciate at all the two best southpaws in the game going against each other?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Chris is a very good pitcher. He was dominant this year. I enjoy watching him compete. American League parks are a little bit different; I have nothing but good things to say about him and the way he competes … Throughout this postseason we’ve seen teams rely heavily on relievers. This World Series is really going to be based on a lot of starting pitching, and that could really determine who wins this series.
What have you learned over the years about the toll that pitching all the way through October can take on your body and what you might be able to do to limit that?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: I’ve gotten hurt the last few years, it really kept my innings down, it’s been good. Pitching in the World Series, you’re pitching on adrenaline all through October anyway. So all of us come November 1 probably aren’t feeling so great when the adrenaline wears off, but it’s one big sprint this month, and then you take a little bit to regroup.
“I really want to win the #WorldSeries.”@ClaytonKersh22 talks with the media about how badly this #Dodgers team wants to win it all and how last season’s experience could help. pic.twitter.com/QEc3bxMoj9
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) October 22, 2018
You having never pitched here before, is this a place you hoped to pitch some day?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: I appreciate the history and everything that goes along with Fenway Park. Check this one off as far as pitching tomorrow, but I don’t really think about the history part of it too much.
When you look at left field there and the short porch, do you compare it at all to maybe pitching in Houston, the way they had the left field short porch there?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: No, short porches obviously in both places to the left, but I don’t think you can let the ballparks dictate how you pitch. You have to go with your game plan regardless of where you’re pitching. Usually when I give up homers, they’re not cheap anyway. So it probably won’t matter if there’s a fence there or not that’s really close.