Ker­shaw has chance to pon­der fu­ture

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - WORLD SERIES - Gabe Lac­ques

LOS AN­GE­LES – Clay­ton Ker­shaw’s sup­port­ers and de­trac­tors saw him take the ball a 24th time for a post­sea­son start in World Series Game 5, saw him give up big home runs and also pitch well only to see his team elim­i­nated, giv­ing both sides a chance to see what they want within his loss to the Bos­ton Red Sox.

Take a good look, though, be­cause the win­dow has opened to some­thing a bit harder to com­pre­hend: Ker­shaw, wear­ing a uni­form that does not have Dodgers on the front.

At press time, Ker­shaw had yet to de­ter­mine whether he will opt out of the final two sea­sons of a seven-year, $215 mil­lion deal, a short win­dow for he and the club to ham­mer out a pos­si­ble ex­ten­sion, or back away from the ta­ble, or per­haps en­gage in a game of chicken.

Nat­u­rally, Ker­shaw’s fu­ture doesn’t have to be fully de­cided right away, and per­haps nei­ther side is pre­pared to so quickly tack on years to his con­tract — or sweeten the $70 mil­lion he’s due over the next two sea­sons. But even if there’s an un­der­stand­ing among the sides in the ab­sence of a deal, funny things can hap­pen when a player wan­ders into free agency.

And it’s all very new for Ker­shaw, who has been a Dodger since they se­lected him sev­enth over­all in 2006 and signed him to the big­gest ex­ten­sion ever for a pitcher in Jan­uary 2014, just be­fore he re­ported for his walk year.

“Busi­ness is busi­ness,” Dodgers closer Ken­ley Jansen said. “He just has to see what’s good for his fam­ily and where he wants to be.

“To me, I re­spect how he goes about his busi­ness, and hope­fully he will be here next year.”

His final start of 2018 turned sour just mo­ments af­ter the first pitch. With one out in the first in­ning, he hung a 0-2 slider to An­drew Ben­in­tendi, who sin­gled. Ker­shaw then piped a fast­ball to Steve Pearce, whose swing vaulted him to World Series MVP honors.

He de­posited the pitch deep into the left-field bleach­ers, the Red Sox had a 2-0 lead and the groans of Dodgers fans fa­mil­iar with this end­ing were barely drowned out by the cheers of the many Red Sox fans among the crowd of 54,367.

Then, Good Ker­shaw reap­peared: He re­tired the next nine Red Sox and 13 of the next 14, the lone hit wiped out by a dou­ble­play grounder. Yet the Dodgers couldn’t muster more than a solo home run off David Price, and a taxed Dodgers bullpen com­pelled man­ager Dave Roberts to keep rolling Ker­shaw out to the mound.

Even­tu­ally, solo home runs from Mookie Betts in the sixth and J.D. Martinez in the sev­enth stretched the lead to 4-1.

“Some­times,” Ker­shaw said, “you just wish they’d find a gap or find a sin­gle or some­thing like that. And they went over the fence tonight.”

He took two of the losses in this World Series, and his ERA in elim­i­na­tion game starts ac­tu­ally dropped to 6.06. Ker­shaw’s good-start, bad-start play­off rhythm has be­come a cruel drill for Dodgers fans.

“Peo­ple need to be grate­ful to see a pitcher like that,” Jansen said of Ker­shaw, who turns 31 in March and has three Cy Young Awards. “You might not see one for a while. He might go down as one of the best left­ies to ever play this game.”


Clay­ton Ker­shaw earned the loss in Game 5 of the World Series.

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