Clayton Kershaw cannot say he has not thought about the opt-out clause in his contract. He might not linger on the topic internally, but he has heard questions about it more often as the prospect of free agency draws near. Kershaw can opt out of the final two years and $65 million remaining in his deal with the Dodgers soon after the World Series ends. His answer has not changed.
“I have not made a decision,” Kershaw said before Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Brewers.
Kershaw was gearing up for his second outing facing Milwaukee in what could be his final start at Dodger Stadium as a Dodger. The Brewers roughed him up in Game 1, when Kershaw permitted five runs and lasted only three-plus innings. It was the briefest start of his postseason career.
Kershaw produced zero swinging strikes with his slider during his outing at Miller Park. He hoped to do better Wednesday.
“There’s no secrets anymore,” Kershaw said. “I think now that we’re in the fourth game of the series, and facing them a couple of times in the regular season, I know what their strengths and weaknesses are. They obviously know mine.”
Grandal benched, as Dodgers go ‘day to day’ with catchers
When manager Dave Roberts benched Yasmani Grandal for Game 2 of this series, he committed to Grandal as his starting catcher for Game 3.
When Roberts benched Grandal for Game 4, inserting Austin Barnes in Grandal’s place, the manager was less certain about his planning for the future.
Grandal has been a mess behind the plate and inside the batter’s box in this series. He allowed two passed balls in Game 1, while making an error and committing catcher’s interference. He let a run score on a wild pitch in Game 3 and yielded another passed ball. Along the way, he hit two for nine with five strikeouts, including two strikeouts in crucial situations Monday.
Across playoff appearances in four seasons, Grandal entered Tuesday hitting .103 with a .462 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Given Grandal’s struggles, the Dodgers could ignore Barnes’ offensive limitations this season and lean on his defensive surety.
“You’re going to deliver 135 pitches, 150 pitches,” Roberts said. “Putting down the right fingers, not giving away bases, the rhythm of a game for a pitcher. And also, obviously, the framing, the blocking, everything, all that stuff is very, very important.
“Especially when you’re facing really good pitching, matchup-based pitching, in this particular case. Where runs are at a premium. The value of the defense, versus the offense, I think there’s certainly an argument for the postseason.”
Hernandez clarifies remarks about fans
In a lengthy post on Twitter, Dodgers utility man Enrique Hernandez clarified a set of remarks he had given the night before, which many interpreted as a critique of the fans. Hernandez commended the crowds at Dodger Stadium for being the “best fans in baseball.”
“I was really frustrated after the game, and as a competitor, I was frustrated because of the way we played and the way I performed,” Hernandez wrote.
After Game 3, Hernandez responded to a question about the team’s struggles against Milwaukee’s starting pitchers by noting his team’s lack of energy. From there, he cast his gaze toward his surroundings.
“As a team, we were a little bit flat tonight, and it showed on the offensive side,” he said. “It’s the playoffs, you’ve got to want it. Today just wasn’t our day. We had no energy. The stadium had no energy. The fans had no energy. Overall, it was a pretty bad game for everybody who calls themselves Dodgers.”
Roberts spoke with Hernandez, who explained how his emotions colored his remarks.
The manager’s first reaction?
“Putting my head down, shaking my head, like ‘You can’t call the fans out,’” Roberts said. “But then after talking to him — we all know, he’s passionate. It was taken out of a frustrating loss. I think it’s an easier one for me to take. And I think the fans should understand that this is a guy who is so out there in the community, so interactive with the fans. If there’s anyone who deserves a mulligan, I think that it’s fair for him.”