With a three-game deficit with just six games to play, the Dodgers have their work cut out for them, but nothing provides as much hope as Clayton Kershaw on the mound, as he will be in the series opener against the Rockies on Friday night.
"Basically we're trying to run the table," catcher A.J. Ellis said after Thursday's win in San Diego. "We'll take it one game at a time; that's the old cliche. But we go tomorrow night with Kershaw on the mound, and we like our chances."
But aside from the race for the second wild card spot, let's take a step back for a moment. Kershaw is in line to start the final game of the season next Wednesday if the Dodgers are still alive, but what if Friday is Kershaw's final start of the season, as the laws of probability would seem to suggest?
Manager Don Mattingly said that if the Dodgers were mathematically eliminated that Kershaw, who is battling a right hip impingement, would not start.
Kershaw is in line for a pair of individual achievements, with varying chances of success. With 211 strikeouts, Kershaw trails R.A. Dickey by 11 for the National League lead. With Dickey slated to start one more game, it seems unlikely that Kershaw would catch him, even with a start Wednesday against San Francisco.
But Kershaw has a much better chance at the ERA title, as his 2.68 ERA leads Dickey (2.69) by the narrowest of margins. Kershaw, who led the National League with a 2.28 ERA en route to wining the pitching triple crown and the Cy Young Award, could join Sandy Koufax (1962-1966) as the only Dodgers to win back-to-back ERA titles.
With Kyle Lohse (2.77), Matt Cain (2.77), Johnny Cueto (2.83), and Gio Gonzalez (2.89) still in play along with Dickey, it's much too early to figure out just what Kershaw needs to do to cement his ERA title. Though eight scoreless innings by Kershaw on Friday night would give Kershaw an ERA (2.5811) that Dickey couldn't beat with a shutout in his final start (2.5859).
But to simply lower his ERA on Friday, Kershaw would need to allow...
- No runs
- One run in 3⅔ innings or more
- Two runs in seven innings or more
As noted by Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk on Thursday, Kershaw could join Roger Clemens (twice), Koufax, and Tom Seaver is reigning Cy Young Award winners to lead the league in ERA but not repeat as Cy Young.
Game Time: 7:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket