Clayton Kershaw will open the World Series as the Los Angeles Dodgers starter on Tuesday, of course. And it will also be the veteran’s first time pitching at Fenway Park.
Kershaw’s ability to start Game 1 of the World Series had been undecided as he closed out Game 7 of the NLCS Saturday night in the Dodgers’ battle with the Milwaukee Brewers. Apparently, the 15 pitches Kershaw threw in the ninth inning Sunday didn’t set him back much. (Note: He did pitch in that final inning just three days after a start where he threw 98 pitches.) But here we are.
“It was fine,” Kershaw said according to ESPN. “It was somewhat of a normal inning, which was good. I tried to throw as few pitches as possible in the bullpen before. Obviously the intensity is different and things like that, but that’s why I came here yesterday, to make sure everything was good.”
During the postseason, Kershaw has almost been unstoppable. In his past seven starts, he’s put together a 3.32 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. He also threw eight scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves and then shutdown the Brewers in a decisive Game 5. His only blemish — Game 1 of the NLCS where he lasted three innings and allowed five runs? The ace quickly moved past that.
Kershaw takes the mound opposite Red Sox ace Chris Sale. The 30-year-old, who has limited his batters to a .169 average, says he isn’t thinking too much about the matchup.
“I don’t take much solace about the matchup,” Kershaw said according to ESPN. “I don’t really care as much, other than I’d like [Sale] to not be as good so we can have a better chance of winning.”
The Dodgers enter their second straight World Series coming off a 92-win season. But Los Angeles, who are underdogs (with Kershaw on the mound?!) in the series with the Red Sox, doesn’t seem to mind that there’s less pressure surrounding the team. Manager Dave Roberts actually enjoys it.
“It’s kind of a role reversal for us,” Roberts told reporters. “It’s the high-payroll, high-powered Red Sox. I like the underdog role.“