Kershaw 'ready to go' in NLDS opener

October 1st, 2017

DENVER -- His final tuneup for the postseason wasn't up to standards, but Saturday night was a time for the Dodgers to look bigger picture than just a 5-3 comeback win over the Rockies.

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While the club clinched home-field advantage through the World Series with a Los Angeles-record 103rd win, Kershaw clinched a fifth National League ERA title at 2.31 (Sandy Koufax also won five), despite allowing three runs in four innings. A no-decision left his record at 18-4, still good enough to lead the league in wins.

Kershaw will start Game 1 of the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile on Friday at Dodger Stadium against the winner of Wednesday's Wild Card Game between Colorado and Arizona. Despite another tough outing at Coors Field, Kershaw said he's ready for October ball.

"I kind of battled through this one," said Kershaw. "I felt OK. No sense thinking about it now. Got to get ready for Friday. I'm as ready as I can be. I feel 100 percent, feel ready to go."

That's what the Dodgers want to hear and believe, even if this wasn't vintage Kershaw. He allowed seven hits, including a home run. It was the 23rd home run Kershaw has allowed this year, seven more than his previous career high, and seventh by a left-handed hitter.

This was Kershaw's sixth start since returning from five weeks on the shelf with a strained lower back. Before the injury, he was 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA. After the injury, 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA.

"Now I feel I'm right back where I should be and ready to go," he said.

That's how manager Dave Roberts sees it as well.

"He's certainly prepared as far as the workload," Roberts said. "I think he's healthy. Obviously, confidence is never a question with Clayton. If you look at the statistics, could it have been better? Maybe. Probably. But I don't think that's something, as we look forward, is going to affect him throughout the postseason."

Kershaw said his pregame routine was interrupted when the Rockies delayed the start for 20 minutes because of "weather," although there was no rain and the field was never covered. But the Rockies did tweet a video of their players celebrating Milwaukee's loss that clinched a Wild Card berth for Colorado.

Although six of the first 10 batters had hits off Kershaw, he retired the last five batters he faced.

"He was looking to get a clean inning and he got that in the fourth," said Roberts. "I thought it ended well. We got what we needed and he'll be ready to go in Game 1."