NLDS Game 1 Preview: Clayton Kershaw Looks To Change Postseason Narrative

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After spending the week going through preparation and answering questions about their opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets at last get to take the field in Game 1 of their National League Division Series matchup.

The Dodgers enter the NLDS having been crowned NL West champions a third consecutive year for the first time in franchise history. Meanwhile, the Mets make their first postseason appearance since 2006 — when they faced the Dodgers. This year’s postseason matchup is the third between the two franchises.

Friday’s Game 1 also marks the start of another opportunity for Clayton Kershaw to shake free from the perception he’s incapable of leading the Dodgers in the postseason. Although Zack Greinke put together a career year, it’s Kershaw who starts the club’s first playoff game a third straight year.

Somewhat overshadowed by Greinke, Kershaw was no slouch in 2015. No, it wasn’t necessarily the MVP-caliber season he had in 2014, but it was nonetheless another dominant year for the left-hander. More dominant than his 16-7 record, 2.13 ERA and 0.88 WHIP may suggest.

Kershaw finished the season with 301 strikeouts, leading the Majors and becoming the first pitcher to strikeout 300 batters in a single season since 2002, when Arizona teammates Randy Johnson (334) and Curt Schilling (316) accomplished the feat.

The Dodgers’ ace also led the Majors with innings pitched (232.2), FIP (1.99), xFIP (2.09) and strikeout percentage (33.8 percent). Kershaw is 1-5 lifetime with a 5.12 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 11 postseason games (eight starts).

That includes 1-2 record with a 3.90 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in five NLDS starts. This season Kershaw went 1-0 with a 0.56 ERA and 0.63 WHIP in two starts against New York. He threw a combined 16 innings over the two outings, and had 18 strikeouts to just two walks.

The Mets counter by sending Jacob deGrom to the mound. The 27-year-old right-hander went 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA, 2.70 FIP and 0.98 WHIP over 30 starts. deGrom is 0-2 with a 3.66 ERA in three career starts against the Dodgers.

However, both losses came in 2014. This season the right-hander threw 7.2 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts in a home game the Mets won. The second-year pitcher is lifetime 12-7 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 27 road starts; he went 8-4 with a 3.09 ERA on the road this season.

In somewhat of a surprise, the Dodgers start Joc Pederson in center field ahead of Kiké Hernandez. The slumping center fielder bats eighth. Corey Seager starts at shortstop, as expected. However, what was not is expected is Seager batting third. The Mets won four of seven regular-season meetings with the Dodgers.

Dodgers Lineup:

LF: Carl Crawford

2B: Howie Kendrick

SS: Corey Seager

1B: Adrian Gonzalez

3B: Justin Turner

RF: Andre Ethier

C: A.J. Ellis

CF: Joc Pederson

P: Clayton Kershaw

Mets Lineup:

RF: Curtis Granderson

3B: David Wright

CF: Yoenis Cespedes

2B: Daniel Murphy

C: Travis d’Arnaud

1B: Lucas Duda

LF: Michael Cuddyer

SS: Ruben Tejada

P: Jacob deGrom


Staff Writer

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