Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Clayton Kershaw is one of the best regular season pitchers the sport has ever seen.
Kershaw is also one of the least reliable post-season pitchers the sport has ever seen.
That strange dichotomy has always been an unofficial asterisk on what will assuredly be a Hall of Fame career when it’s finished — and much to Kershaw’s chagrin, that career could very well be finished after a historically bad playoff outing Saturday night.
The Dodgers lost Game 1 of the 2023 National League Division Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-2, a lopsided loss no matter how you try to spin it.
But it wasn’t so much that the Dodgers lost badly, it was more a matter of the Dodgers never having a chance in this game out of the gate thanks to Kershaw’s abysmal start.
And it was a historically abysmal start for Kershaw who, as ESPN notes, became the first pitcher in MLB history to give up five hits and five runs before recording a single out.
Yes, the Dodgers and Kershaw were facing a 5-0 deficit before recording a single out. It is a historically bad outing that is in honest contention for worst start in MLB history, period.
Kershaw would ultimately give up one more run and one more hit, before Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled his decorated star off the mound.
The star Dodger also suffered a personal worst, failing to make it out of the first inning for the first time in 454 career starts.
“Disappointing,” Kershaw said after the game, per ESPN. “Embarrassing. You just feel like you let everybody down. The guys, a whole organization, that looked to you to pitch well in Game 1.
“It’s just embarrassing, really. So I just feel like I let everybody down. It’s a tough way to start the postseason. Obviously, we still have a chance at this thing, but that wasn’t the way it should’ve started for me.”
Compounding matters, Kershaw may never get a chance to rectify this historically bad outing. The NLDS is a best-of-five, so it’s the first team to three wins that wins the series.
Per ESPN, Kershaw is penciled in as a hypothetical starter for Game 4 — something that won’t happen if the Dodgers lose the next two games.
And given that Kershaw is a ripe (for sports) 35-years old, if the Dodgers are eliminated before Game 4, there is a non-zero chance that the aging pitcher rides off into the sunset.
Alongside the numerous career accolades, Kershaw has also collected a laundry list of injuries and quite a bit of mileage over his career. Retirement chatter has been hounding Kershaw for the better part of the last few seasons.
For that matter, however, Kershaw would probably prefer being hounded by retirement rumors as opposed to the way he was hounded all season long in what has rapidly turned into a year to forget for the Dodgers.
The move was so widely vilified and derided that fans were simply not interested in hearing about the Dodgers’ “Christian Faith and Family Day.”
Many baseball fans viewed the Christian celebration as a tokenized response to the LGBT backlash.
That’s to say nothing of the actual on-field product, which, as ESPN points out, has been an up-and-down year for the Dodgers, as well. Kershaw is actually the last standing member of the team’s original starting pitching rotation.
All of the other original starters are either injured or suspended.
Kershaw will only be able to look on from the dugout in Game 2, which takes place Monday in Los Angeles.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.