“Kerchoke”, “ChokeShaw” and “Chokin’ Kershaw”.
These are names we need to stop talking about and bringing up. The Dodgers Ace and arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, always gets a bad rap when it comes to playoff baseball. The critics who knock him in October are the same critics that praise him for the six month long regular season. Time and time again we have seen absolute spectacles of pitching dominance from Kersh, however these games are overlooked by people who think that he is a superhuman that is expected to win every game.
Lets take a look at Clayton Kershaw. He is a 3-time Cy Young award winner for the National League and a National League MVP winner in 2014. Along with this he’s been selected to seven all star games in his nine year major league career. Not to mention he consistently finishes in the top 5 for Cy Young voting each season. Clayton Kershaw, who is the highest paid pitcher in baseball definitely deserves all of the credit where it’s due. Then we get to the playoffs.
It’s certainly no secret that Kershaw does not perform to his standards in every playoff game he has pitched in. With that being said lets examine his playoff record since 2013. Since 2013, the first year the Dodgers went to the playoffs since 2009, Kershaw has a record of 7-7 with a 4.35 era. Thats not the best but its better than some playoff pitchers. Most of his losses came against the Cardinals in 2013 and 2014, this was the thorn in Kershaw’s side. I’ll never forget when Matt Adams crushed that 3-run home run off of him in 2014 to win the game. Really, when you look at it, Kershaw has only had a few bad playoff games that inflate his era. One against the Cubs and two against the Cardinals.
Anyways, this past season, Kershaw went undefeated in the playoffs going 3-0. Despite having a remarkable game one of the World Series and striking out 11 Astros to get the win, this is overlooked by what happened in game five in Houston. Kershaw gave up two separate leads in the game and in walk the critics. “Good ol Kershaw blowing the game again” or “Chokeshaw at his finest”. In game five everyone wants to look at Kershaw and blame him, although he didn’t get a loss. However no one looks at his opponent in that game, Justin Verlander. Verlander did just as bad as Kershaw in that game yet no one mentions his name. Why? Because the Astros won that game and the Dodgers lost. Still, if the Astros would’ve lost that game, people may have said “Yeah Dodgers won but Kershaw choked”.
Choke – a term used to define someone that did not show up in the big game and caused their team to lose. In the biggest game of the World Series, game seven, Kershaw didn’t start. The Dodgers had that other guy start…Anyways, Kershaw comes out of the bullpen and throws four innings of scoreless baseball. Did he choke there? Of course not. But imagine if Kershaw started game seven and gave up those five runs. Imagine the amount of criticism that Kershaw would’ve received. That would certainly not be the day any Dodgers fan would want to see. Nonetheless, I personally believe that in order for people to stop using the words “Chokeshaw” and “Kerchoke”, Kershaw will have to win a World Series ring or two or three, I don’t really know if thats sufficient enough for the critics but thats what it will take for them to recognize that he is the best pitcher in baseball around the board.