Zylbert: Analyzing Clayton Kershaw in a Must-Win Game 5 Start

Zylbert: Analyzing Clayton Kershaw in a Must-Win Game 5 Start article feature image

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22).

Betting Odds: Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Over/Under: 7.5
  • First pitch: 8:15 p.m. ET
  • Probable pitchers: David Price (16-7, 3.58 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA)
  • TV channel: FOX

Zylbert’s 2018 MLB Over/Under Betting Record

  • Regular Season: 102-73-4, +21.45 units
  • Postseason: 8-12-1, -6 units
  • Yesterday’s Result: Red Sox-Dodgers Under 8.5, Rodriguez vs. Hill (“loss”)

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

With one more win, the Red Sox can secure their ninth championship in franchise history. Of course, for Boston to win it all on this night, it must go through arguably the best pitcher of an entire generation, Clayton Kershaw, who has a very polarizing history when it comes to postseason performances.

When Kershaw is toeing the rubber in a potential elimination game, he has an unsightly career 6.28 ERA, but the future Hall of Fame pitcher has actually fared far better in recent years — a strong sign that the 30-year-old has overcome his previous woes under pressure.

There was Game 7 of the NLCS only last weekend, and while Kershaw did not start that game, he still came through in a huge way, notching a scoreless ninth to win the pennant. He also registered four shut out innings in Game 7 of last year’s World Series when summoned in relief despite Los Angeles ultimately coming up short.

Kershaw was not as successful in such spots in previous years, but some of that could be tied to the star left-hander pitching on short rest. Here, he’ll fortunately be going on regular rest.

But perhaps most importantly, this very well may be Kershaw’s final game as a Dodger, having the opportunity to opt out of his contract after this year and test free agency for the first time in his career.

So, in addition to wanting to keep his team alive, there’s also the idea that Kershaw will want to go out on top, if this is indeed his final start in Dodger blue.

David Price will be working in a familiar spot that I’ve already covered a few times this postseason: pitching with Boston up in a postseason series.

We saw it in Game 5 of the ALCS versus Houston, with the Red Sox already up 3-1 in the series. Price dealt six shutout innings with nine strikeouts, which locked up the pennant for Boston.

On Wednesday with a 1-0 series lead in Game 2, the former No. 1 overall draft pick churned out six more quality innings, yielding only two runs.

For Price, it all boils down to him being in his comfort zone and not letting the pressure get to him. With a solid postseason under his belt this year, it seems like Price has exorcised his playoff demons.

After what was witnessed last night, it’s apparent that both starting pitchers effectively going deep into a ballgame may not be enough on its own. We’ll just hope two normally trusted bullpens can get back on track like they’re capable of doing when the time comes.

Play: UNDER 7.5 (-105)