Clayton Kershaw LA Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw needed just 104 pitches to get through nine shutout innings when he last faced the New York Mets. Getty

Clayton Kershaw has separated himself as the best pitcher in baseball over the last few seasons, but he’s also gained a reputation for struggling in the playoffs. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace gets a chance to prove that he can be just as good in the postseason on Friday night when L.A. hosts the New York Mets in Game 1 of the 2015 National League Division Series.

The Mets send Jacob deGrom to the mound, and the reigning NL Rookie of the Year is among the league’s best pitchers, posting a 2.54 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP this season. Kershaw’s statistics were not as impressive in the first half of the season, but the 2014 NL MVP ended the season with numbers that take a backseat to no pitcher in MLB.

Kershaw finished the year with 301 strikeouts, becoming just the second pitcher since 1912 to throw 200 innings with 300 strikeouts and an ERA better than 2.15. He posted a 1.31 ERA after the All-Star break, and he’s allowed just three hits in his last 12.2 innings of work, striking out 20 batters in the process.

But there’s no guarantee that Kershaw will continue that in the postseason. After winning his third Cy Young award in four seasons last year, Kershaw had a 7.82 ERA in two playoff losses. He blew a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning of Game 4 of the NLDS, eliminating the Dodgers from contention. The left-hander gave up seven runs when the Dodgers were eliminated from the NLCS in 2013, and he has a 5.12 career postseason ERA.

DeGrom has never been in the playoffs, and the Mets are making their return to the postseason for the first time in nine years. He was dominant in his one start against the Dodgers this season, giving up no runs and striking out eight batters in 7.2 innings. Chase Utley has the most experience of any L.A. hitter against deGrom, going 3-10 against the right-hander. The rest of the team has a collective .149 batting average against the Mets’ starter.

Kershaw nearly no-hit the Mets in a shutout on June 23, and he’s allowed one run in 16 innings against New York this season, striking out 18 batters and allowing just 10 baserunners. Yoenis Cespedes, David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda are a combined 5-37 against the three-time Cy Young winner.

Playing at home and having the better regular-season pitcher on the mound, the Dodgers are 2/1 favorites to win Game 1. The Mets won four of the seven meetings between the two teams this year.

Start Time: 9:45 p.m. ET

TV Channel: TBS

Online Stream: Watch TBS

Dodgers Roster

C: Yasmani Grandal, A.J. Ellis

INF: Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Chase Utley

OF: Kike Hernandez, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson, Justin Ruggiano, Yasiel Puig

SP: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Brett Anderson, Alex Wood

RP: Luis Avilan, Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell, Kenley Jansen, Joel Peralta

Mets Roster

C: Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki

INF: Lucas Duda, Kelly Johnson, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, Wilmer Flores, David Wright

OF: Michael Cuddyer, Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Curtis Granderson

SP: Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steve Matz

RP: Jeurys Familia, Tyler Clippard, Addison Reed, Hansel Robles, Erik Goeddel, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese