Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 batters over seven innings tonight at Turner Field as the Dodgers topped the Braves 6-1 in Game 1 of the NLDS.
Kershaw labored early on, but he eventually showed why he’s a virtual lock to win the National League Cy Young Award, striking out nine out of the final 11 batters he faced. The southpaw gave up one run and three hits on the night, with the only run scoring on an RBI single by Chris Johnson in the bottom of the fourth inning. This was the first postseason victory of Kershaw’s career. He previously appeared in five postseason games (including two starts) in 2008 and 2009.
Kershaw’s 12 strikeouts tonight were the most by a Dodgers pitcher in the postseason since Sandy Koufax struck out 15 in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series. That’s some pretty good company. They were also the most in an MLB postseason game since Cliff Lee struck out 13 in Game 3 of the 2010 ALCS.
Kris Medlen came into the postseason on a roll, allowing just four earned runs combined over his final six regular season starts, but it didn’t translate tonight. He gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk over four innings before exiting. The Dodgers had contributions from all over the lineup, as Adrian Gonzalez launched a two-run homer while Mark Ellis, Hanley Ramirez, Skip Schumaker, and A.J. Ellis also drove in runs.
Things won’t get any easier for the Braves tomorrow, as they’ll have to dust themselves off and face Zack Greinke. After using five relievers tonight, they’ll be looking for a big outing out of Mike Minor.
The Yankees probably have the best minor league system in baseball right now and the best player in that system is, without question, shortstop Gleyber Torres. Now that top prospect is a step closet to the Bronx: he has been promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees don’t rush their prospects anywhere nearly as fast as a lot of teams do, but Torres, who is only 20, proved himself to be ready for the promotion. In 32 games at Double-A Trenton this year he hit .273/.367/.496 in 139 plate appearances. That OPS is almost 100 points higher than that which he posted in high A-ball in 2016.
Torres came over to the Yankees from the Cubs organization in the Aroldis Chapman trade last summer. At this rate he’ll be playing shortstop behind Chapman in New York before too long.
Dodgers outfielder Brett Eibner came into yesterday’s game against the Marlins as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning. He hit a single scoring Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez and then advanced to second on the throw home. Overall on the year he’s 5-for-16 with a walk, two homers and six driven in eight games. Admirable work for a guy whose job is to be a bench bat and outfield depth.
As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports, however, he could possible provide some bullpen depth too:
Eibner has thrown several bullpen sessions at Dodger Stadium and at Oklahoma City, working on building arm strength and developing secondary pitches to accompany a fastball he said hit 95 mph in college.
The idea, still in its theoretical stages, would be for Eibner to remain, primarily, a backup outfielder, but to possibly serve as an extra arm during periods when the Dodgers pen gets worked hard. Something less than an everyday reliever but something more than the gimmick of using a position player to save the real pitchers in a blowout.
In an age when teams have cut their position player depth down to the bone in the service of adding more relief pitchers, finding a guy who can do both could provide a nice little boost, no?