NLCS: Kershaw Solid in Dodgers Win
If we set out to build a team for the 2018 season and had the freedom to pick any player to build our franchise around, many of us would look to Clayton Kershaw as our centerpiece. Kershaw has earned the reputation as the best pitcher in baseball today, but many people have questioned his ability to perform in the postseason.
Despite the doubts that many had of Kershaw, he received the assignment for the Dodgers NLCS game one matchup with the defending world champion Chicago Cubs. Regardless of how good the Dodgers rotation may be, no one deserves the ball in this role more than Kershaw.
He pitched well, and while I still see many critiquing him on social media, the fact of the matter is, Kershaw held one of the deepest lineups in baseball to two runs over five innings. Expecting the ace lefty to toss seven innings of shutout ball is just unfair. Kershaw did his job. He knew the Dodgers lineup could return from a two run deficit and that the bullpen could keep them in the game. That is exactly what happened.
After his five innings, Kershaw turned it over to the bullpen with his team trailing 2-0. In the home half of the fifth, the Dodgers offense came alive. Yasiel Puig drove in Logan Forsythe on a double before a Georgia native, Charlie Culberson, got Austin Barnes home on a sacrifice fly.
After the Dodgers offense managed to tie things up, the bullpen took over. Five relief pitchers combined for four innings of hitless ball. While the Cubs were struggling to get men on base, the Dodgers were quickly taking over.
A Chris Taylor homer took the lead in the sixth and Yasiel Puig made it a 4-2 lead in the seventh with a solo shot of his own. Culberson followed that up with a double and would eventually come around to score on a Justin Turner single. Culberson was called out at the plate, but after review, he was deemed safe. Joe Maddon would get tossed arguing the call.
While the Cubs jumped out to an early lead, the Dodgers, and their bullpen, never looked back after overcoming the early deficit. Kershaw deserves credit for his effort in game one and he has helped put his team in good position for the series.