The Dodgers will turn to Clayton Kershaw on Friday night, with the hopes that he can give the team a 2-0 edge over the Nationals in the NLDS. Walker Buehler threw six scoreless innings last night, as the Dodgers picked up the 6-0 victory to kick off the series.
For Kershaw, this will be the 31st game of his postseason career. The narrative is evident. Though he’s proven to be one of the best pitchers of our generation, he still has yet to overcome his struggles in October. In his career, he’s 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA.
He seemed to turn a corner last year early on, as he threw eight scoreless innings in game 2 of the NLDS versus the Braves. Things then took a turn, as he posted a 5.73 ERA over his next five appearances in October.
Through his career, his ERA has actually been the lowest in the Divisional Series. In 12 career NLDS games, he owns a 3.72 ERA with a WHIP of only 1.02. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best out of any series, and his strikeouts-per-nine number is the highest as well.
But, that’s in the past, and all that matter is tonight and how he’s able to perform. Kershaw is coming off a 16-5 season, in which he finished the season with an ERA above three for the first time since his rookie season. Granted, a 3.05 ERA still put him near the leaderboard across the MLB, but by his standards, it was a ‘down season’.
Over his last 15 appearances, Kershaw posted a 2.81 ERA. In his last start of the season, he threw six scoreless innings, while allowing only two hits to the Padres. He made one start this season against the Nationals. Back in July, he threw six innings, allowing two runs and striking out nine.
The Nationals will counter with Stephen Strasburg. He recently pitched on Tuesday, coming out of the bullpen in Washington’s wild-card victory over the Brewers. He threw three innings, holding Milwaukee scoreless while striking out only four. His pitch count was only 34, hence why he’s able to go on such short notice.
Though it’s a small sample size, Strasburg has been great in his postseason experience. He’s appeared in a total of only four games, but has posted an ERA of 0.41. He has a WHIP of 0.91, while striking out 28 in only 22 innings.
He faced the Dodgers twice this season, going 1-1. In 13 innings, he allowed only three runs on six hits, while striking out 16 compared to only two walks.
First pitch of game 2 is at 6:37 p.m. PT on TBS.