Los Angeles Dodgers ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw had another postseason meltdown, and the National League favorites are heading home after losing to the Washington Nationals in the NLDS.
After falling in back-to-back World Series', the Dodgers set a record with 106 wins. They were supposed to finally move past all those October failures. The path was there to reach the Fall Classic for a third straight time.
But instead, the Dodgers endured what may be the most heartbreaking playoff loss in the Kershaw era. And the eight-time All-Star and three-time NL Cy Young winner admits that he understands all the criticism for his playoff shortcomings.
"Just a terrible feeling," Kershaw said, per the Associated Press (h/t the New York Post). "I might not get over it. I don’t know. Everything people say is true right now about the postseason."
The Dodgers carried a 3-1 lead into the top of the eighth inning, and manager Dave Roberts made the risky choice to send Kershaw out in relief. Looking to erase his reputation as an underperformer in the postseason, Kershaw once again couldn't close the door.
First, Kershaw allowed a solo home run to Anthony Rendon, which cut the Dodgers lead to 3-2. Juan Soto hit a homer on the very next pitch to tie the game up, and Kershaw was pulled following the disastrous outing.
The final blow came in the top of the 10th inning, when Howie Kendrick hit a grand slam over the center field wall to put the Nats up 7-3. They shut down the side in the bottom of the 10th inning to clinch their first postseason series victory since moving to Washington from Montreal in 2005.
The Dodgers have won seven straight NL West Division titles, and they've made the NLCS four times - winning the pennant twice. Despite all of this remarkable consistency, the Dodgers haven't been able to win a World Series with this core. And you have to wonder if it will ever come.
Dodgers' Window Is Still Open
Despite another crushing postseason defeat in October, it's too early to suggest that the Dodgers' window has closed. Kershaw is 31 and remains one of baseball's elite pitchers. Walker Buehler (25), Cody Bellinger (24) and Corey Seager (25) are young and in their primes, while veterans Justin Turner Kenley Jansen remain All-Star-caliber players. Kershaw and the Dodgers still have time to change their label and win a World Series (or two) while the core is together.