Was Clayton Kershaw tipping his pitches against the Cardinals?


For the second time in a row, the Cardinals took Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw to the cleaners in a playoff game. In Game 6 of the NLCS last year, they battered him for seven runs in four innings; last night in the opening game of the NLDS, they scored eight times against him in 6 2/3 innings, six of which scored in their eight-run seventh inning as they erased a four-run deficit.

There has to be some explanation for this, right? Kershaw, who has led the league in ERA four years running, who is about to win his third Cy Young Award, who is this generation’s Pedro Martinez — he can’t just fall apart in back-to-back post-season starts like this, can he?

Answering questions like those has led some to speculate that Kershaw has been tipping pitches. Mike Petriello of Dodgers Digest and FanGraphs dug into the video and the stats, concluding that the pitch-tipping theory is bunk:

Hey, maybe the Cardinals really did pick up on something that absolutely no one else could. Good on them, if so, and since the only two hits Kershaw had allowed in the first six innings had been solo homers, the idea that the Cardinals couldn’t take advantage until they finally got a runner on second makes for a tidy narrative. It just doesn’t really fit the evidence, particularly when we have real, actual evidence that a tiring Kershaw changed his release point, changed his pitch selection, and started throwing some ugly pitches to good hitters, which ended poorly for him. It’s unfortunate that none of those liners happened to go right to Juan Uribe or Hanley Ramirez, but that’s the luck of baseball.

While it’s certainly rare for Kershaw to allow so many runs — including two home runs — it’s not unprecedented. The Diamondbacks scored seven runs off of Kershaw in 1 2/3 innings back on May 17, Kershaw’s third start after returning from the disabled list due to a back problem. After that, Kershaw was nearly unhittable, as we saw in month after month after month after month. That Kershaw has struggled in back-to-back post-season starts, against the same team no less, creates a nice narrative, but it’s more coincidental than anything else. Had the Pirates won three more games and the Cardinals three fewer, we might instead be talking about the Pirates’ resolve to overcome Kershaw rather than the Cardinals’ curious mastery of the best lefty in baseball.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”