The Los Angeles Dodgers concluded the regular season with Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw each receiving a final tuneup in the closing days. Hill fared best of the three southpaws, but more importantly each is healthy.
The Dodgers’ decision to not give Yu Darvish or Alex Wood a last start was somewhat curious. Though in Wood’s case, he may be bound for the bullpen once the National League Division Series begins.
More will be know by Friday, when Dodger Stadium plays host to Game 1 of the best-of-five series. Predictably, Kershaw is slated to start the opener against the winner of the NL Wild Crd Game — Arizona Diamondbacks or Colorado Rockies.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has otherwise not announced his NLDS rotation. According to Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times, Hill is expected to start in Game 2, and Yu Darvish in Game 3 on the road:
The Dodgers have not formally announced their plans, which could change in the days leading up to the start of the first round Friday. But Hill is slated to throw a simulated game Monday, which would place him on regular rest for Game 2 on Saturday. Darvish will undertake a similar assignment Wednesday, putting him in line for Game 3 on Oct. 9.
What Roberts did go so far as to state was the club does not intend to start Kershaw on short rest in a potential Game 4. However, the same has been said in previous years, and Kershaw has taken the ball in an NLDS Game 4 in each of the past four Octobers.
Slotting Hill behind Kershaw comes as a mild surprise only in that Darvish was pegged as the right-handed complement to the Dodgers ace. But based on performance, even with the 31-year-old Darvish improving of late, Hill has been more consistent.
He capped off the regular season with 10 strikeouts against the San Diego Padres over seven shutout innings. Hill allowed two runs or fewer in each of his five September starts, including one run or less in his final three outings.
Should Hill indeed follow Kershaw in the playoff rotation, he would be in line to take the ball in a possible Game 5 of the NLDS.