LOS ANGELES -- Before he pitches Game 1 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World, Clayton Kershaw will cue up two of his old starts and re-watch them.Specifically, Kershaw will take in Games 2 and 6 of last year's NLCS against the Cubs, the Dodgers' opponent once
LOS ANGELES -- Before he pitches Game 1 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World, Clayton Kershaw will cue up two of his old starts and re-watch them.
Specifically, Kershaw will take in Games 2 and 6 of last year's NLCS against the Cubs, the Dodgers' opponent once again tonight.
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"One was good; one was bad," Kershaw recalled -- understating things to some degree.
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The Dodgers' ace was brilliant in Game 2 last year, blanking the Cubs for seven innings as he allowed just two hits and singlehandedly evened the series at a game apiece. After his gritty performance in the NL Division Series against Washington, Kershaw appeared poised to put his well-documented postseason woes behind him.
Five days later, that came crashing down. In a must-win Game 6, Kershaw would allow five runs (four earned) over five innings as the Cubs advanced to the World Series. It marked the third time in four years that Kershaw was on the hill as the Dodgers' postseason run came to an end.
"People talk about all the postseason failures that I've had, and I understand that," Kershaw said. "I don't really look at it like that, though, which is, I guess, a good thing for me. But I think I look at the times -- I've had success at times, too, and I try to marinate on those.
"It just so happens a lot of the years we've lost, I've been pitching that night. So I'm going to try not to do that this year."
Fairly or unfairly, it's Kershaw's Game 6 performance last year that resonates most. Maybe it's the impossibly high regular-season standard that the future Hall of Famer has set for himself. Every time he struggles, it qualifies as news.
Heck, he pitched the Dodgers to a Game 1 victory in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile against Arizona, and still, most of the postgame talk centered around the two seventh-inning homers he allowed.
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Come Saturday night, Kershaw will be working on seven days' rest, a luxury he hasn't been afforded in the postseason. The Dodgers' sweep of Arizona has put them in a spot to line up their rotation for the first time in three NLCS trips this decade.
Last October, Kershaw pitched five times in the span of 16 days. This year, he threw two bullpen sessions between his first two starts.
"In years past, it's been Game 5's and a lot of travel and not having home-field [advantage]," Kershaw said. "It's definitely a different spot for us. It was kind of fun yesterday watching the [Cubs and Nationals] duke it out while we were sitting around. It was great, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter."
At the very least, Kershaw is fresh as he enters a two-week stretch that could potentially shift his legacy. Take that for what it's worth.
"As far as being overworked, underworked, I don't think anybody's at a perfect spot during the postseason," Kershaw said. I'll just be ready to go tomorrow."
As will the Cubs.
"Great team," Kershaw said. "Lot of familiarities with both of us. There are not going to be any secrets. [I'll] just try to make less mistakes than I did in Game 6, I guess."
Even for Kershaw, it's the loss that jumps first into his mind.
Oh, how he'd love to change that narrative beginning Saturday night.
AJ Cassavell is in his seventh season as a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.