Narratives rule October. That’ll be no exception as the Los Angeles Dodgers look to punch their ticket to the World Series with a win at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. In the way of the Cubs forcing a Game 6? Just the greatest pitcher on the planet. Buckle up.
LHP Clayton Kershaw (LAD) versus LHP José Quintana (CHC) — 8:08 p.m. ET, TBS
Speaking of narratives, there’s that doggone one that Kershaw isn’t very good in October. Is it true? Is it not? After all, he did go over the 100-inning threshold for postseason play last time out, and he’s got a 4.57 ERA, 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a BB/9 of 2.8. His WHIP is 1.16. The strikeouts are better than his career rate, but otherwise his ERA is nearly double his career mark (2.36) and everything else is out of whack.
While 100 innings seems…substantive…it’s still about five percent of his career innings. And let’s not forget, it’s spread over seven seasons in the playoffs. Or, about 16-17 innings per pop. So he’s obviously not Madison Bumgarner in the postseason. But does that mean we should crap all over him? How much can he erase this narrative with a win here?
Or, will the boo birds be back out to say it was a low-pressure game?
In short, it’s all basically nonsense.
Something that can be lost in the wash is that this is all new for Quintana. He’s just cutting his teeth in the postseason after playing for some truly awful teams on the south side. Quintana has a whopping 11.1 postseason innings under his belt—two starts, one relief appearance this season—and he’s allowed just a pair of earned runs (1.59 ERA) with 11 strikeouts.
Basically, he’s been terrific. And it’s been a continuation of what was an excellent race to the end of the season for the lefty, whose season numbers were underwhelming. But after posting a 4.49 ERA with the White Sox, Quintana was brilliant with the Cubbies: 3.74 ERA, 10.5 K/9, 1.10 WHIP.
It’ll be intriguing to see how far Joe Maddon pushes him with an iffy bullpen in the offing. But as we’ve seen, this postseason has been anything from conventional. Enjoy the ride.