Astros 'not afraid' of Dodgers ace Kershaw
Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch insisted his team were "not afraid" of Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw ahead of the World Series.
Kershaw is a three-time Cy Young Award winner, MVP, seven-time All-Star, five-time National League ERA leader and will likely go down as one of the best pitchers of all time.
The Dodgers ace will get the call in game one of the World Series in Los Angeles against the Astros, who are not fazed by Kershaw's Hall of Fame accolades.
"At this time of year you're not going to face too many guys that aren't pretty good, and it's hard to argue that you're going to face anybody better than Kershaw," Hinch told a news conference on Monday.
"He's got every weapon that you would fear. He's got that competitiveness that every ace has. He's got some hardware on his shelf at home. And he's pitching in front of his home crowd. There's a lot of things tilted in his favour.
"But we're not going to back down. We're not afraid of him. We're not going to concede anything because we've got a pretty good team on our own side."
Kershaw has not given the Astros a reason to be nervous with a career 4.40 postseason ERA including giving up six homers in three play-off starts this season. He last faced the Astros in 2015, hurling eight innings of one-run ball with 10 strikeouts, but knows this time around is completely different.
"They're a great team. Their whole lineup is really solid. You saw that all year," Kershaw said Monday.
"They won a hundred games for a reason. Starts with [Jose] Altuve and [Carlos] Correa in the middle of that lineup. They're both exceptional baseball players. Really all the way down. They have a lot of guys that swing the bats well.
"No, I'm not going to do anything differently, I guess, except try and not give up a home run and strike a few guys out."
Kershaw will have to be careful with Astros star Altuve, who is batting .400 with five homers and eight RBIs.
"He hits everything pretty well," Kershaw said of Altuve.
"I think that he's super aggressive. But at the same time he hits a lot of different pitches. It's not a guy that just hits fastballs well or just hits breaking ball well. He does everything pretty evenly throughout the board.
"Just a matter of execution with him. You're just trying to mix up spots, pitches, locations, don't give him any predictable counts, predictable pitches. He's a tough out. I think he's one of the toughest outs in the game. You just can't give in to him."