UPDATE: The Post has comments from the doctor. He never examined A-Rod. He merely reviewed A-Rod’s MRI at his request. His verdict: he didn’t say anything significant on the MRI. That said, he takes great pains to say that he wasn’t giving a formal second opinion and is in no position to say whether or not A-Rod can play. It was merely his take on the MRI.
Which sorta makes it sound like A-Rod is doctor shopping with the purpose of getting some sort of message across in what one can only assume is a pretty tense showdown between he and the Yankees regarding his ability to play. Or about the P.R. component regarding whether he is able to play. Which isn’t quite the same thing.
1:30 PM: This is simply delicious:
Is he faking? Are the Yankees keeping him out on purpose? Is the doctor crazypants? Are these things mutually-exclusive? I’d say (a) maybe; (b) maybe; (c) maybe; (d) no.
And that no matter what the truth is here, someone is gonna come out looking bad. Either A-Rod for appearing to be hiding, the Yankees for being unwilling — possibly out of P.R. concerns — to activate a player who might actually improve their team, even if it’s just for a week or two before Bud’s hammer comes down.
As for the doctor: man, this guy sure does speak out of turn a lot for a dude who is supposed to keep client confidentiality. Probably worth noting that doctors can only do that if their patient tells them they can …
As for the Yankees: boy, A-Rod being totally healthy sure would look bad for their alleged attempts to get insurance to cover his contract on some disability retirement scheme. It’s almost as if someone in A-Rod’s position would like to see the Yankees squirm a bit here. It’s almost as if they’d like him to STFU. Hmm …
All I know is that I hope it’s A-Rod who is seen as the bad actor here. He’s murdered 19 people after all, so I’m sure he can take the heat.
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.