The legend of Clayton Kershaw choking for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs is gone, at least for now. The Washington Nationals are back on the menu.
Maybe it’s not fair to suddenly make Kershaw a playoff stud just because he got two outs, but it made sense to not throw him in there so soon after he looked really tired at the end of the previous game. Overall, Kershaw’s choking has more to do with being left on the mound for too long than actually falling apart in the postseason.
This time the Nationals bullpen fell apart. Max Scherzer did a solid job until giving up a home run to Joc Pederson, but what followed was terrible, as the Dodgers scored four runs in the 7th inning and the Nats just rotated through their bullpen, not finding an answer. Eventually it stopped and a two-run homer by Chris Heisey made it a one run game again, but it wasn’t enough.
The Dodgers went to their two best pitchers: Kenley Jansen and Kershaw. Jansen didn’t blow it this time, striking out 4 in 2.1 innings, although he did walk 4 and allow one hit. But the Dodgers survived it. Kershaw came on to close and did exactly that, letting a lot of pressure off his shoulders, and sending the Dodgers to the NLCS, which means facing a very good Chicago Cubs team.