LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8, 2015 — Everywhere you hear people talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw and the MLB Playoffs, you invariably will hear about how Clayton Kershaw is terrible in the playoffs. You will hear about how he has the proverbial playoff monkey on his back and he needs to do something to show he can pitch in the playoffs. The problem is that he already has.
In fact, Kershaw has pitched well in more starts than those in which he has pitched poorly in the playoffs, but thanks to the nature of the small sample size and the media’s thirst for blood, it would appear that Kershaw has generally pitched horribly every start in the playoffs.
He has started eight games in the playoffs for the Dodgers and actually has a pretty decent 1.17 WHIP with 54 strikeouts over 47 innings. Of those eight games started, five were quality starts, with four of those quality starts being with two or less earned runs given up by Kershaw.
In those five quality starts, Kershaw threw 31.2 innings, while striking out 36 batters to go with a 0.929 WHIP.
Looking at Clayton Kershaw’s smaller sample size of three non-quality starts, most of his numbers are horrendous at 1.89, but he still struck out 18 batters in just 15.1 innings. He gave up the same number of walks and hits, 29, in his three bad starts as he did in his five quality starts.
There is also a misrepresentation of how Clayton Kershaw seems to fair against the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs. Five of his eight starts in the postseason have been against the Cardinals, so it would only stand to reason that the majority of his bad starts would probably be against St. Louis.
As it turns out, two of the three bad starts were indeed against the St. Louis Cardinals, with the other coming at the hands of Philadelphia. Meanwhile, three of his five quality starts were also against the Cardinals.
Just against the Cardinals in the postseason, Kershaw has struck out 33 batters over 29.1 innings, but the problem is that people see he posted an un-Kershaw-like WHIP of 1.329 and feel Kershaw has some sort of hiccup either in the playoffs or at least against the Cardinals.
When you break down Kershaw’s numbers versus the Cardinals into quality starts and non-quality starts, you see that it is those two bad games against the Cardinals that muddied the WHIP waters and public opinion. In his two non-quality starts against St. Louis, Kershaw has a 1.875 WHIP, compared with 1.017 in his three quality starts against the Cardinals in the postseason.
Unfortunately for the New York Mets, there is nothing wrong with Kershaw in the postseason. He does not have any problem with the St. Louis Cardinals. The problem does, however, lie in some people’s perception of things that occur within a small sample size.