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#pounditWednesday, July 17, 2024

Dave Roberts: Clayton Kershaw told me he wanted to pitch

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw undid the narrative about him supposedly not being a good playoff pitcher by coming up clutch in the NLDS and closing out the Washington Nationals on short rest in Game 5. And according to Dave Roberts, pitching two days after making a start on short rest was all Kershaw’s idea.

“Come the eighth inning, Clayton came to me and said he feels great. If Kenley’s going to be stressed — which he was — [Kershaw] can get the last couple outs for us. So at that point in time, talking with him, looking him in the eye, I felt good about it. And the training staff gave him the OK,” Roberts recalled in an interview with FOX’s JP Morosi after the game.

“It’s only fitting for Clayton to get the last out right there,” Roberts said of his ace.

What was even more surprising about Kershaw coming in to pitch the game was that Roberts had previously said Kershaw would not pitch in that contest. But Kershaw’s request changed things.

“I was surprised … but it just shows the character of him, the unselfishness, and the will to win,” Roberts said of Kershaw.

Kershaw got the final two outs of the game to seal a 4-3 win for the Dodgers. He did it with two runners on base and with one of the Nats’ most dangerous hitters up — Daniel Murphy. He got Murphy to pop up and then struck out Wilmer Difo to end the game.

Keep in mind that Kershaw got the win in Game 1, gave the Dodgers 6.2 innings in a Game 4 victory with the series on the line, and then he pitched two days later for the save in the clinching Game 5.

This was Kershaw’s first save since 2006, when Kershaw was in rookie ball. There are two great parts about that note: the save came against the Nats, and Kershaw’s catcher was Kenley Jansen, who is now the Dodgers’ closer.

The Dodgers now move on to the NLCS to face the Cubs. And Roberts deserves recognition for his unconventional maneuvering with his pitching staff, which included pulling his starter in the third; using his setup man in the third inning; putting his closer in for the 7th; and pitching his staff ace on short rest again in a save situation. What a game!

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