Clayton Kershaw set the all-time postseason strikeout record in Game Five of the 2020 World Series. After a fifth-inning strikeout of Kevin Kiermaier, his fifth of six in the game, Kershaw passed Justin Verlander for the most postseason strikeouts in baseball history at 206. Kershaw earned the win, allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks in a 4-2 ballgame. With the win, he improved to 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in the series. Most importantly, he gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a 3-2 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, putting his team one win away from a World Series title.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 26, 2020
A Storied October Career
This milestone for Kershaw is a reflection of his longevity and consistency throughout the last decade. He now has 30 starts in 37 postseason appearances spanning 20 series and 13 years. His 189 postseason innings are the sixth most all-time, and his 13 wins are fifth. Kershaw has been a reliable and effective ace for the Dodgers’ rotation throughout one of the franchise’s most successful runs. “It just means I’ve been on great teams that have gotten to go to the postseason,” Kershaw said.
Kershaw’s well-documented postseason career, on the other hand, includes several infamous shortcomings. A few rough starts have damaged the Dodgers’ playoff hopes and inflated his postseason ERA (4.19), ultimately diminishing his legacy. Sure, you could say that Kershaw has had to unfairly carry the load for his team. In fact, if some things had gone differently, we might be telling an entirely opposite story of Kershaw’s postseason history. But at the end of the day, Kershaw and his team have come up short of their goal–winning the World Series–every year.
Despite the struggles, the bottom line is that Clayton Kershaw has been one of the most productive starting pitchers in postseason history, as evidenced by the strikeout record. His numbers put him among legends of October like Tom Glavine, Andy Pettitte, and John Smoltz. He now holds a 13-12 record with a 4.19 ERA in the postseason alongside his historic 207 strikeouts. If the Dodgers hold on to win the World Series, his legacy will be cemented as one of the greatest pitchers of all-time.
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