Yesterday was not a great day for the Mets’ infield. In addition to Jose Reyes aggravating his recent hamstring injury, Daniel Murphy was spiked on his left leg on a slide into second base by Braves’ outfielder Jose Constanza.
While it’s not yet clear if Reyes will require another stint on the disabled list, the early word on Murphy isn’t good. According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Murphy will miss the rest of the season with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Surgery will not be necessary, but the injury will require a four-month recovery time.
Ironically, Murphy sprained the MCL in his right knee last June on a takeout slide while playing second base with Triple-A Buffalo. He missed the rest of the season, but was able to rehab the injury and play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
Murphy entered this season without a clear role, but emerged as a key contributor as the Mets dealt with extended absences from David Wright and Ike Davis. The 26-year-old batted .320/.362/.448 with six homers, 49 RBI and an .809 OPS over 423 plate appearances. While he did his part offensively, he also made his fair share of mental errors in the field, doing little to squash the notion that he is a man without a position.
Terry Collins was so shorthanded yesterday that he was forced to use Wright at shortstop for the first time in his career, so the Mets are expected to recall Ruben Tejada from the minors in advance of tonight’s game against the Padres. They would likely add another infielder if Reyes needs to miss some time.
For years, a bulk of the postseason coverage surrounding Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw focused on his poor results once the regular season ended. The three-time Cy Young Award winner carried a career 5.68 postseason ERA following his NLDS Game 1 start against the Diamondbacks last year, a sample size spanning 15 starts and four relief appearances totaling 95 1/3 innings.
Kershaw had a subpar start against the Astros in Game 5 of the World Series last year and the narrative hit a fever pitch. I dug into the numbers at that point and found that a not-insignificant portion of Kershaw’s playoff ERA could be attributed to relievers coming in after him and failing to strand their inherited runners. At the time of that writing (October 30, 2017), Dodger relievers allowed 10 of 16 runners inherited from Kershaw in the playoffs to score, a strand rate of 37.5 percent. That’s roughly half of the league average (around 75 percent).
Kershaw finished out the World Series last year by pitching four scoreless innings of relief in Game 7. He returned to the postseason, starting Game 2 of the NLDS against the Braves this year and tossed eight shutout frames on just two hits with no walks. The narrative should have died there, too. It, of course did not. As the Dodgers advanced to the NLCS, Kershaw got the Game 1 nod against the Brewers and struggled. The Brewers got him for five runs (four earned) across three-plus innings. One of those runs included a home run hit by the opposing pitcher (Brandon Woodruff). Kershaw was also hurt by a passed ball and catcher’s interference on the part of Yasmani Grandal in the third inning. Not a great outing, but not as bad as the line score read, either.
In Game 5 of the NLCS on Wednesday evening, Kershaw once again redeemed himself. He limited the Brewers this time around to a lone run on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over seven innings of work. The only run came around in the third inning when Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI double to center field. Kershaw’s career postseason ERA is now 4.11 and it would be much lower if his bullpen had, in the past, done its job more effectively.
According to Katie Sharp of The Athletic, tonight’s postseason start was Kershaw’s eighth in which he allowed one run or fewer and three hits or fewer. No other pitcher in baseball history has made more than five such starts. That’s partially a function of opportunity, as the Dodgers have been in the postseason every year dating back to 2013 as well as in 2008 and ’09. But Kershaw still has to go out there and make the pitches, and he largely has. The “Kershaw can’t pitch in the postseason” narrative is dead. It never should have lived.