Next week, the Los Angeles Dodgers begin a playoff journey for their ninth consecutive season. This one could be very different.
Their streak of National League West division titles is on the brink. The Milwaukee Brewers defeated them 8-6 on Friday night. However, the San Francisco Giants won 3-0 over the San Diego Padres to end their streak of National League West division titles. The Dodgers must win their final two games and the Giants must lose their last two to force a Game 163. If it doesn’t break L.A.’s way, the defending champion Dodgers will head to an NL wild-card game matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals despite having 104 wins and counting.
And they likely will navigate the postseason without Clayton Kershaw for the first time since 2006.
Kershaw, their former MVP, three-time Cy Young Award winner and surefire future Hall of Famer, exited his start after giving up five hits and three runs in 1 2/3 innings, throwing 42 pitches in his fourth start since missing nearly three months with a left forearm injury.
As Kershaw left with a trainer, he seized the baseball in his left hand rather than relinquish it to manager Dave Roberts.
“Obviously he felt something, didn’t feel like he could continue. After the game, Roberts stated that we’d like to conduct more tests. However, Clayton’s exit from a game doesn’t bode well.
“What that means, we just don’t know enough right now. We are not optimistic about where we are in the season and what’s left.
“He felt something, didn’t feel like he could continue. Tomorrow we will do more tests. We are not optimistic about where the season is at right now. Dave Roberts reports on Clayton Kershaw’s exit from tonight’s game in 2nd innings. #Dodgers pic.twitter.com/wWNDNLnssV
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) October 2, 2021
Kershaw said he felt something in his forearm/elbow area – “kind of the same thing I’ve been dealing with” – and said he would get his arm looked at in the coming days. This injury could end his season, he said.
“I just wanted to be a part of this team going through October. This team is extraordinary… This team is special. Kershaw stated that the hardest thing for him right now is knowing that October doesn’t look great.
“Overall it’s going be fun to see and I’m excited to see what these guys do in October.
Kershaw, 33, is a free agent after this year and hasn’t ruled out any scenario for the 2022 season.
He reiterated Friday night that his future is “going to take care of itself. “
” I really wanted to be part of this moment and to be there with the group through October. Kershaw stated that this was my sole focus throughout the year, once I was hurt, was to make it up for October. “So that’s what’s hard about it right? Knowing that it’s going be difficult to even contribute to this month.”
Kershaw might not have figured into the team’s plans until a Game 4 of the NL Championship Series, should they get there, with Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias atop the rotation. The Dodgers playoff baseball without Sandy Koufax’s greatest lefty, Kershaw, will be a different story. His October fate has been anything but predictable.
After 10 trips to the postseason, starting as a 20-year-old in 2008, Kershaw and the Dodgers finally broke through in 2020, winning their first championship since 1988 as Kershaw won four of his five playoff starts, including Games 1 and 5 of the World Series against Tampa Bay.
Kershaw’s 207 strikeouts are a postseason record, and he’s made 30 career starts – an entire season’s worth of playoff work.
This year, he finishes 10-8 with a 3. 55 ERA, and 144 strikeouts in 121 2/3 innings.
Contributing: Jace Evans