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Kershaw Redeemed As Dodgers Take 3-2 Series Lead

Clayton Kershaw officially ditched the postseason “choker” label as he led the Dodgers to a victory in Game 5. Nearly six innings of a surprisingly composed Kershaw sparked the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory and a 3-2 Series lead. However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts still has to decide who’s starting the World Series clincher, so it ain’t over yet.

It turns out Clayton Kershaw is capable of getting the job done in the clutch, so what happened? Why did he show poise and consistency this year when he has struggled so often in postseason play? We can only guess that Dave Roberts must’ve read some of my recent articles. I’ve been preaching for him to pull Kershaw before things get testy. Short, high-stress outings work best for the 3-time Cy Young winner. He may have gotten outs in past years, but he couldn’t pitch effectively deep into games. The Dodgers finally bucked the trend of a late-game Kershaw collapse by denying him that opportunity.

Of course, Clayton Kershaw isn’t the only Dodger who needs to come ready to win. Joe Pederson’s solo homerun in the second inning and Max Muncy’s shot to Mars in the fifth gave him some space and some confidence. His teammates made sure he wasn’t the scapegoat tonight, and now their efforts might make them champions.

Jansen?

Dave Roberts ditched the Kenley Jansen train and let flame-throwing Blake Treinen close the game. There’s no need to let the designated “closer” finish the game when he doesn’t actually do his job. Sudden common sense by Roberts led to a Dodgers 3-2 series lead that now shifts momentum yet again.

It’s all lollipops and rainbows in L.A., except for the fact that Dave Roberts now has to name a Game 6 starter. Rays manager Kevin Cash has already locked in former Cy Young winner Blake Snell. Plenty of Dodgers fans want ace Walker Buehler to go for the jugular, but if he starts, he’ll have had only three days of rest. Part of Kershaw’s brilliance tonight was allowing the Dodgers to rest some relievers needed in Game 6. LA will have to use some of those rested relievers next game.

Tony Gonsolin, who traditionally hasn’t gone deep into games, is expected to throw for the Dodgers. A rested stable of relievers allows Los Angeles to bring out all their horses in the hopes of closing out a title that night. This plan also makes room for a loss in Game 6 and Walker Buehler pitching a do-or-die Game 7.

The two teams have a day off tomorrow, with Game 6 coming Tuesday at 8:08 ET, and we expect a great game. Neither starting pitcher will have a long leash, so it looks like a battle of the pens. The Dodgers now sit just one win away from their first World Series title since 1988. Will Tuesday be the day? Kershaw and his teammates sure hope so.

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  1. A surprisingly smart move by Roberts to bypass Jansen to close this one. With that we may have witnessed the passing of the best closer since Rivera.

    He lost his fastball last year, and everyone sits on that cutter now, which has become very hit table at 90-93 mph. I’ve wondered how long his arm could hold up with his whacked mechanics, so it’s finally caught up. Still, I think the best closer since Rivera.

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