LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw enters this postseason with a chance to atone for bitter playoff disappointment over the past two years but says team success, not personal satisfaction, is his main goal.
Kershaw, who on Sunday became only the third pitcher since 2000 to post a 300-strikeout season, will start for the Dodgers on Friday against the New York Mets in Game One of their best-of-five National League Division Series.
“I don’t really judge myself ... I don’t really judge other players,” left-hander Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, told reporters on Thursday after he and his team mates completed a workout session at Dodger Stadium.
“My goal is to win just for the team mates and the guys in our room. That’s the most important thing to me.
“So you look at guys’ success, guys’ careers. I think you have to take everything into account, but at the end of the day you want to win the World Series. That’s what we play for.”
In 2013, Kershaw gave up seven runs in four innings in a 9-0 elimination loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Six of the 2013 NL Championship Series.
One year later, the Cardinals were again his postseason nemesis as the Dodgers were ousted 3-1 in the NL Division Series. St. Louis erupted for eight runs in the seventh inning to stun Los Angeles and Kershaw in a 10-9 Game One shocker.
Pitching on short rest in Game Four, Kershaw was initially dominant but again would take the loss after giving up a three-run home run in the seventh inning.
“I don’t know,” Kershaw, 27, replied when asked what he would take into Friday’s Game One from his experience of the last two postseasons. “We’ll find out tomorrow. Losing’s never fun, so try to win, I guess, is probably the best bet.
“But other than that, I don’t really know. I don’t know if experience matters a whole lot. We have a lot of guys with a lot of experience.”
Kershaw, the National League’s most valuable player in 2014, felt he did not lack for extra motivation after the Dodgers’ early exit from the playoffs in 2013 and again last year.
“I think I’ll have enough,” said the five-time All-Star. “I don’t need to be fueled by too much. I definitely remember, but it’s a new team, new season, and hopefully for me a new outcome.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue