"This was a fun night," Kershaw told reporters after the Dodgers punched their ticket to the National League Division Series with a 3-0 win.
The 32-year-old left-hander, who was born in Dallas, will now return to Texas as L.A. enters one of MLB's postseason bubbles:
"If you would've told me that the first time I'm ever gonna pitch in Texas is in the division series against somebody that's not the Rangers—I mean, it's the craziest thing ever. I've been to [Arlington] a few times. I've never actually gotten to pitch there, so it's gonna be weird. I live literally 10 minutes from the team hotel, and so I'm gonna be staring at friends and family through a glass wall. It's a weird deal, but the good news is, it's a weird deal for everybody. I think the bubble will be fun."
Kershaw was his typically overpowering self during the regular season, posting a 2.16 ERA and 0.84 WHIP with 62 strikeouts in 58.1 innings across 10 starts.
His consistency has caused his greatness to get overlooked at times. He had a "down year" by his standards in 2019 with a 3.03 ERA, his highest mark since 2008, but it still ranked ninth among all qualified starters.
He hasn't always been quite as efficient in the playoffs, though. His career postseason ERA stands at 4.37 after Thursday's terrific outing, nearly two runs higher than his regular-season mark (2.43).
So a strong first start in this year's playoffs is a promising sign for the Dodgers.
"It was just fun to sit back and watch him make pitches," L.A. manager Dave Roberts told reporters.
The Dodgers advance to face either the San Diego Padres or St. Louis Cardinals in the next round. Their series is tied 1-1 after the Padres' win Thursday, and a deciding Game 3 will take place Friday.
Los Angeles, which posted an MLB-best 43-17 record during the regular season, is the favorite (+260) to win the World Series, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
The starting tandem of Kershaw and Walker Buehler will play a critical role in the Dodgers trying to reach those sky-high expectations. So far, so good for L.A.