Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw has now allowed five home runs in the 2017 postseason, a career high. Is this cause for concern?
Clayton Kershaw tied his home run record for the past four postseason appearances with Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora Jr’s two-run blast in Game 1 of the 2017 National League Championships Series. Should Los Angeles Dodgers fans be worried?
In short: Probably not. But it is worth some consideration.
Kershaw gave up his fifth home run this postseason on Saturday night to Almora. Prior to the NLCS, Kershaw gave up four solo shots through 6.1 innings of work in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers still pulled off a 9-5 win over the D-Backs but this is uncharted territory for a guy who hasn’t given up a postseason home run since 2015 and whose single-year postseason HR record has been stuck at three since 2014.
In fact, Kershaw has only ever given up a total of six home runs in his previous 5 years of postseason appearances (2009, 2013-2016). This is only worth mentioning because 2017 saw Kershaw give up more home runs in the regular season – 23 total – than any other season in his major league career. This comes after giving up eight home runs in 2016. His previous HR record stood at 16 back in 2012. Looking at 2017 stats as a whole, Kershaw’s 5.68 postseason ERA contrasts sharply with his 2.31 regular season ERA.
However, these home runs aren’t having any kind of negative impact because the Dodgers are still winning the games.
Kershaw came out of Game 1 of the NLCS after only five innings that saw him give up two earned runs on four hits, including Almora Jr’s two-run homer. Manager Dave Roberts had no choice but to pull him out of the game early as soon as the Dodgers managed to tie the Cubs 2-2 after a productive 5th inning for Los Angeles. The Dodgers went on to win the game 5-2 and claim a 1-0 lead over the Cubs. Fortunately for the Dodgers, that home run didn’t have any bearings on the outcome.
This could all be important moving forward because Kershaw has now given up five home runs in his two postseason starts. Depending on the outcome of the NLCS, his next start could be in Game 1 of the World Series. Though the Dodgers are clearly capable of pulling off come from behind wins, it would be nice to have Kershaw 100 percent back in the Clayton Kershaw groove, meaning not giving up home runs in consecutive appearances.