L.A. Dodger Clayton Kershaw has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, now that he has been slated to throw Game 1 of the World Series. The 3-time Cy Young winner has yet to have a signature postseason moment, and the Rays pose a new problem for him: left-handed pitchers have struggled to strike out the American League champions all season. Pitching coaches need to prepare Kershaw now so that he can make adjustments before the start gets away from him.
Tampa set an all-time record for most strikeouts in a championship series but controlled this problem against lefties. It’s unclear why lefties didn’t see the same success against the Rays as their right-handed counterparts, but the issue is real. Clayton Kershaw needs to find ways to get through the lineup knowing that strikeouts won’t come easily.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts needs to take note of these postseason splits and pull Kershaw before Tampa can wear him down. Pitch count should be a huge factor in Game 1, as Kershaw tends to struggle as he creeps into the 80s. Roberts should not ask Kershaw to pitch more than twice threw the Rays’ lineup since history has shown that batters have success against him on their third try. Game 4 of the NLCS was especially brutal for the former ace.
The L.A. roster was built to face velocity from the right side. In years past, they didn’t have the ability to play matchups, so they made roster adjustments. They are now ready for the Rays. Tyler Glasnow is arguably the most physically imposing right-hander in the game, but the Dodgers possess plenty of lefties to platoon against him.
Like Kershaw, Glasnow should have a high pitch count, but his team is better fit to handle it than Kershaw’s Dodgers. Tampa has built up a dynamic bullpen that can withstand long stretches on the mound. They scheme to shut down lineups beginning in the fourth inning.
Pay attention to Kershaw’s pitch count tonight, as it could affect Games 2 and 3. He’ll throw the first pitch for Game 1 tonight at 8:11 ET. You don’t want to miss it.