Nitkowski: Kershaw Has Been "Average" In Postseason

Clayton Kershaw is a Hall-of-Fame pitcher, at least in the regular season, but the playoffs have been a different story

Reiter Than You
October 11, 2019 - 8:55 am

Clayton Kershaw’s postseason struggles were well-documented, but nothing could have prepared fans for what they witnessed in Game 5 of the NLDS. Kershaw failed to protect a two-run lead, giving up a pair of eighth-inning home runs, as the Nats won 7-3 in extras to end the Dodgers’ 106-win season.

Ultimately, how should Kershaw’s postseason resume be viewed?

“This is a tough one for me,” C.J. Nitkowski said on Reiter Than You. “It’s not as obvious as, say, David Price up until last year. I think David Price went like 11 starts and was 0-8 in those starts in the postseason. Last year, he got it turned around, and it was something that weighed very heavily on him because he talked about it after they won the World Series and basically told the media, ‘You can no longer hold that over my head.’ 

“So it’s one of those things when you struggle, it’s there, it’s real, and even the most mentally sound and greatest pitchers and players we have ever seen are well-aware of the fact that they have struggled in the postseason.”

Kershaw, an MVP and three-time Cy Young winner, is arguably the best pitcher of his generation. But his postseason numbers have fallen short of expectations. He is 9-11 with a 4.43 ERA in 25 starts and has allowed 24 home runs in 158 and 1/3 innings.

“He’s been just kind of average,” Nitkowski said. “I know (Game 5) was a real bad one, but as far as what you see in Clayton Kershaw, there’s been some times where it looks like he’s put it past him. He’s delivered some moments, but it just hasn’t been to the level of what we have seen in the regular season. And that’s probably even an unfair standard to put on him. But the difference from who he has been – which is a Hall-of-Fame pitcher consistently throughout the bulk of his career – compared to who he has been in the postseason, there’s a pretty big gap there.”