Brad Lidge: Clayton Kershaw Is In A "Tricky Spot"

Kershaw's postseason narrative has improved, Lidge said, but his stuff isn't what it used to be

Reiter Than You
October 25, 2018 - 9:28 pm

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Clayton Kershaw, a seven-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young winner, is perhaps the best pitcher of his generation. But he hasn’t been as sharp in the postseason.

Why not?

“There’s a couple things that kind of go into it,” World Series champion and MLB Network Radio Host Brad Lidge said on Reiter Than You. “I think when he was throwing a little bit harder and he was kind of in his prime in terms of velocity and he was facing the St. Louis Cardinals, I still believe to this day – after talking to some hitters with the Cardinals and understanding more about it – that he was tipping his pitches and that they had his pitches in those series.”

Kershaw went 0-4 in the postseason against the Cardinals in 2013-14 with ERAs of 6.30 and 7.82, respectively.

“I think that kind of got him off to a real bad start in the postseason, and it was very hard for him to overcome that for a while,” Lidge said. “Because once he got off to that bad start, then that becomes the narrative – that you’re not a good postseason pitcher. And so he had to really kind of bear down and right the ship and figure out from his experiences how to slow the game down. He was able to do that.”

Indeed, Kershaw is 8-4 in the postseason since 2015 and is now 9-9 in his playoff career.

“More often than not over the last couple of years, he’s turned in good performances,” Lidge said. “But he did have a tendency to rush. He’s slowed it down now, but all of a sudden his stuff isn’t quite as good. So it’s a little bit tougher for him. He’s got to be a master pitcher in the postseason when you’re facing these lineups and you’re facing these great hitters, especially when you go on the road in a place like Boston. All those great right-handed hitters they have, even if you are focused and concentrating and slowing the game down, it’s still almost impossible to navigate through the lineup.”

Kershaw wasn’t great in Game 1 of the World Series. He allowed five runs on seven hits in 4.0 innings. The Dodgers lost, 8-4.

“He’s kind of in a tricky spot right now,” Lidge said. “If he was facing a lesser opponent, I’d say he’ll be fine. And I still think he’ll have a good outing in Game 5. In fact, I think he’ll probably have like a six-inning, three-run quality start type of outing. But you just can't keep the Red Sox lineup down forever – no matter how comfortable you feel, no matter how focused you are.”