Clayton Kershaw is a great pitcher.
That said, he hasn’t exactly earned himself the longest of leashes when it comes to the postseason.
The Los Angeles Dodgers ace’s playoff woes have been well-documented, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that things crashed and burned Wednesday in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.
And, certainly, manager Dave Roberts deserves some of the blame.
Kershaw had pitched well most of the night, so with the game tied at one entering the bottom of the sixth inning, Roberts elected to send the southpaw back out, putting him in a position to face the top of the Braves’ dangerous lineup for the third time.
It wasn’t until Kershaw allowed an infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., then back-to-back doubles to Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna that put Atlanta ahead 3-1 that Roberts pulled his starter. He needed two relievers to get through the inning, with the Braves hanging six runs on L.A in the inning to take a 7-1 lead.
They would win 10-2 to take a 3-1 series lead.
So, what in the world was Roberts thinking?
“I just thought Kershaw was throwing the baseball really well, and there was no reason,” Roberts said, via ESPN. “I felt really good about it. …
“I’m not going to take Clayton out after a weak ground ball and another ground ball off the bat of (Freddie) Freeman,” Roberts said.
“I felt really good with Clayton at that point in time.”
That’s great and all, but the general lack of awareness is borderline inexplicable. Leaving a starter in too long almost never works, and certainly Kershaw has not earned the right to do that.
Now, the Dodgers have to rattle off three straight wins to keep their season alive.