Editor's note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $3,000 Fantasy Baseball postseason league today (Friday). It's $25 to join and first prize is $900. Here's the link.
Heading into Thursday's start, Clayton Kershaw had a 5.87 ERA and an 11/9 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 innings in postseason play for his career.
That was then, this is now.
Kershaw showed why he's the unquestioned frontrunner for the NL Cy Young Award on Thursday, holding the Braves to one run over seven innings in the Dodgers' 6-1 win. The southpaw allowed just three hits and three walks while striking out 12 Braves hitters -- or one more than he'd fanned in his previous 15 1/3 innings of work in the postseason. The only blemish against him came on a Chris Johnson RBI single in the fourth inning.
His offense fared better against Braves starter Kris Medlen, as they got to him for nine hits and four runs in four innings. Skip Schumaker was the only Dodgers regular without a hit, and six different players were responsible for the six runs scored in the game. Adrian Gonzalez delivered the game's biggest blow, launching a two-run blast off Medlen in the third inning.
Kenley Jansen allowed a hit and a walk in the ninth inning but registered three strikeouts to end the threat. The Dodgers take a 1-0 series lead into Friday's Game 2. Zack Greinke will go for the Dodgers, and the Braves will counter with Mike Minor.
Click here for the latest MLB Player News and follow @Rotoworld_BB on Twitter for all the newest developments. If you're a glutton for punishment, feel free to follow @Nate_Grimm on Twitter as well.
Beltran Keeps Belting
Where Clayton Kershaw had struggled in his previous postseason endeavors, Carlos Beltran has made a living in October.
Beltran had a .363/.470/.782 line, 14 home runs and 25 RBI over 151 plate appearances in his postseason career before Thursday's game. He added to those totals on Thursday with a three-run homer off Pirates starter A.J. Burnett that sparked a seven-run third inning. The home run moved him into a tie with Babe Ruth for eighth place on the all-time postseason home run list.
"I don't know what it is about October," Cardinals shortstop Daniel Descalso said about Beltran. "It seems like he's an impossible out. But he has the same demeanor from [the first game of the regular season] through the postseason."
It was a rough afternoon for Burnett, who struggled with his command while allowing six hits and four walks in just two-plus innings of work. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright had less trouble. Wainwright gave up just three hits over his seven innings, striking out nine. A Pedro Alvarez solo home run was the only mark against him on the afternoon. Rookies Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal both worked scoreless innings to seal the victory.
The Pirates will look to even the series Friday afternoon behind their own rookie pitcher, Gerrit Cole. He'll be opposed by Lance Lynn for the Cardinals.
A couple players without defined roles could have a big impact on their respective series.
The Tigers announced Thursday that Jhonny Peralta, whose 50-game suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs ended on September 27, would be on the 25-man roster for their series against the Athletics. Peralta finished the season hitting .303/.358/.457 but may have trouble cracking the Tigers' lineup. Jose Iglesias is entrenched as their starting shortstop, and while he'll likely see some time in left field during the series, Andy Dirks is slated to start Game 1. Peralta's bat off the bench could prove valuable in pinch-hit scenarios.
Pinch-hitting is also what Andre Ethier will likely be relegated to in the Division Series. Ethier is still dealing with the effects of a sprained left ankle, and there was some concern from the Dodgers about his ability to even run to first base should he deliver a pinch hit. He'll serve as Dodgers manager Don Mattingly's late-game bullet if needed.
National League Quick Hits: Ethier's teammate, Brandon League, did not make the Dodgers' NLDS roster. The reliever is in the first year of a three-year, $22.5 million contract ... Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said the probability of Allen Craig (foot) playing this postseason is low. Craig missed the final four weeks of the regular season with the injury ... The Cubs claimed first baseman Mat Gamel off waivers from the Brewers. Gamel was considered the 34th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2009 season but he's hit just .229/.305/.367 and has struggled to stay healthy at the major league level ... Tyson Ross underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder on Wednesday. Ross should be ready to roll by spring training ... Joe Kelly will indeed start Game 3 for the Cardinals in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
American League Quick Hits: Rays pitcher Matt Moore is slated to start Game 1 opposite Jon Lester in Boston on Friday. David Price will start Game 2 for Tampa ... Yu Darvish received an injection Thursday for a lingering nerve issue in his lower back. There's no concern that the injury will affect his ability to be ready for spring training ... The Rangers are expected to make a qualifying offer to free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz. That offer is believed to be somewhere in the $14 million range this offseason ... A's manager Bob Melvin said Yoenis Cespedes (shoulder) has a good chance of playing in left field in Friday's Game 1. Cespedes had been relegated to designated hitter duties with the ailing right shoulder ... Dale Sveum, just days after being fired as Cubs manager, will join the Royals' staff next season.