Los Angeles Dodgers: Postseason baseball is in Clayton Kershaw’s head

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after giving up a solo home run to Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals in the eighth inning of game five of the National League Division Series, to tie the game 3-3, at Dodger Stadium on October 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after giving up a solo home run to Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals in the eighth inning of game five of the National League Division Series, to tie the game 3-3, at Dodger Stadium on October 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Oh, the signs of October – the changing leaves, pumpkin spice everything, and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw puking on his jersey in a pressure situation.

There is no question that Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw is a star, one of the best pitchers in the game when it comes to the regular season. He is a future Hall of Famer, the ace of the Dodgers staff, and one of the top pitchers of his generation.

Except when the calendar turns to October. Then, Superman finds his kryptonite, as the future Hall of Famer becomes a mediocre pitcher at best. Over 32 postseason appearances, totaling a combined 158.1 innings, he has posted 9-11 record with a 4.43 ERA, albeit with a solid 1.105 WHiP. However, Kershaw has also allowed ten homers in elimination games, by far the most of any pitcher in playoff history.

At this point, we are all aware of Kershaw’s track record in the playoffs. It is something that he is well aware of as well, as he mentioned in his postgame interview following Game Five. October baseball has permanent residency in Kershaw’s head, as he simply cannot be the same dominant pitcher he has been in the regular season.

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Prior to October, Kershaw has been one of the better pitchers of his generation. He has posted a stellar 169-74 record, along with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.008 WHiP, both of which are the best amongst active pitchers. In his 2274.2 innings, he has struck out 2464 batters with just 577 walks. Kershaw is a three time Cy Youn winner, a former MVP, and an eight time All Star. However, when the calendar turns to October, Kershaw is just barely league average.

But that does not have to be the case going forward. David Price was notorious for his own inability to handle the pressure of the playoffs, infamously failing to earn a win in any of his postseason starts before last year. However, he became a key part of why the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series.

Price was able to get over the hump. It took longer than anyone would have hoped, but he was able to slay those mental demons and pitch well when it mattered. Perhaps at some point, Kershaw will be able to do the same.

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For now, October baseball is living rent free in Clayton Kershaw’s head. His struggles during the postseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers are just another sign that October is upon us.