That brings me to Kershaw. Kershaw is the best pitcher of his generation; he has, over the course of his career, produced an ERA 57% percent better than league average (adjusted for park and league context) according to Baseball Reference. In his most dominant stretch, from 2013-2017, he produced an adjusted ERA that was 92% better than league average. This is one of the most dominant stretches of pitching in baseball history. So why has his postseason performance been so disappointing? Well first, let me stress, given his regular season performance, his postseason outcome has a been a bit disappointing. In a vacuum, a 4.43 ERA is not something to sneeze at. It certainty is not great, but definitely not terrible. What stands out is the ramifications of some of his playoff blunders, chronicles by Ben Clemens over at FanGraphs this morning. 2013 against the Cardinals and 2016 against the Cubs stand out in particular. We fail to realize that he seems to have disappointed so often because he has pitched in so many meaningful games. It should not be forgotten how many great teams he has led to October. Still, we are left wanting more.
On Wednesday Kershaw, with the Dodgers up 3-1, gave up two homeruns on consecutive pitches that proved to be fatal to the Dodgers season. Granted, he was put in the unusual position, for him, of coming to pitch in relief, despite the fact that Dave Roberts had Pedro Baez, potent against right-handers, to pitch against Rendon and Adam Kolarek, potent against lefties, to pitch to Juan Soto. Nevertheless, in 2019, he gave up three runs in an inning on three separate occasions: a start on June 24th, a start on June 29th, and a start on August 31st. He threw a shade over 180 innings the entire year. Here is his distribution of runs allowed in an inning this season: