The Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Chicago Cubs in game 4 on Wednesday night. Sportainment caught up with the pitcher before the game:
Q. Last few years we’ve been at this point and there’s been so much conversation about pitching on three days’ rest and what it means. Is it more relaxing this year not having to deal with it?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Relaxing is probably not the right word. It’s probably just a testament to the team we have more than anything. The way we’ve been playing and how everybody has been able to contribute and everybody has been stepping up. There’s been no need to do that, which is a good luxury to have. But I wouldn’t say relaxing by any means.
Q. How much would you say, if at all, has Yasiel changed from the first year he was with you guys to who he is now?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, I think there’s been a lot of changes. I think it’s kind of been all over the map from where he started to where he is now. But, I mean, this last — really this whole season, I think people have gotten through to him a little bit. I think he’s built up trust with some people.
And you see it in the way he plays. I think that’s part of it; that he believes people have his best interest at heart. At the same time, too, his level of focus this postseason has been the best that I’ve ever seen it, and his determination. When you combine that with the talent level that he has, it’s a really special player.
Q. With the way you’ve been used as a pitcher, do you feel fresher maybe than you have in the past, and how does that manifest itself?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, I don’t really — people have always said, you got hurt this season, so you’ve got to feel better. You’ve got to feel fresher. I don’t really feel any different any postseason. I think maybe last year with the usage I maybe felt a little bit towards the end, I felt a little bit — tired is not the right word, but maybe just a little bit taxed, maybe.
But, yeah, I feel good. I don’t feel any different than when I feel normal. I feel normal, which is great.
Q. Beyond following your normal routine and preparing to pitch tomorrow, because it’s not your night to pitch, do you allow yourself to anticipate what a win tonight would mean?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, it’s a tough spot for me just because I have to prepare to start tomorrow. I can’t assume we’re going to win and then it just so happens I have to pitch. I have to expect to pitch and then be surprised when we win. It’s a tough spot because obviously I believe in our team and I believe that we can win tonight. But I can’t let myself mentally go there. But hopefully — yeah, hopefully it doesn’t work out and I don’t have to pitch. But we’ll see.
Q. Given how well you guys played through the middle of August, how surprising was that stretch for your loss, whatever it was, 16 of 17, and what did you learn from your group through surviving that?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: Yeah, you know, I think it’s so hard to look back on it when you’re in the middle of it. But I guess you learn that it’s probably humbling for us, realizing we’re not unstoppable. We’re not unbeatable, which was probably a good thing for us, for sure.
Q. You talked a few minutes ago about Puig. Have you seen at all as a part of his growth where he’s taken on a leadership role with the team?
CLAYTON KERSHAW: You know, I think right now he’s more just playing, I think, and people feed off his energy, which is a good leadership trait. I think it’s not so much outward leadership skills right now, but I think just this energy and emotion, it’s a big thing for us.
Sometimes it’s funny and his antics are different and whatnot. But I think his energy and emotion, we definitely feed off that at times, which is fun.