NLCS 2013: Clayton Kershaw Heads Into Unknown Territory For Los Angeles Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

There’s little doubt that the Los Angeles Dodgers possess one of the greatest pitchers, if not the best, in all of baseball today. Clayton Kershaw has been stumping lineups for the last few seasons, and will easily walk away with the National League Cy Young Award this season. As he prepares to take the hill in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, it’s time to look at another aspect of his game.

That aspect is how he fares under pressure. We know what Clayton Kershaw can do. He’s been doing it for the last couple of years. This year, he was far and away the best pitcher in the National League. His arsenal of pitches is ridiculous, including a curveball in his possession that is simply unfair.

As the Dodgers prepare to head into a must win situation in Game 6 of the NLCS, there’s almost nobody on the planet that you’d rather have on the bump. Los Angeles needs him to come up big, especially with the way that the St. Louis Cardinals have pitched in this series. But is he capable of coming up with the large outing that the Dodgers need out of him?

We’re not completely sure of that at this point, not because there are questions about whether or not he can, but because he simply has not at this point in his career. Prior to this year’s postseason, Kershaw had barely thrown over 15 playoff innings. This year, he’s already thrown 19, but none of them have been in a must-win situation to date.

For the most part, Kershaw has fared just as well in the postseason as he has in the regular season. His career playoff ERA is just 2.88, and only one of those earned runs that he’s allowed has come in 2013. He’s walked only five hitters in his 19 innings, while striking out 23. Again, sometimes Clayton Kershaw simply is not fair.

This is what fans of Clayton Kershaw have been waiting for: getting to see him take the mound under this type of pressure. The Dodgers need the W to force a decisive Game 7. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in all of baseball. He’s pitching against the team that finished with the best record in all of baseball.

If Kershaw falters, no one is going to declare him a choker, or anything of the like. He’s proven that he can be a playoff performer. Pitching in this type of atmosphere, with this type of pressure, is something we haven’t seen from him yet, though. It’ll be high drama, and with Michael Wacha going for the other side, we could be in for the best battle that these playoffs have seen yet.

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