2016 NLDS: Clayton Kershaw To Start Game 1, Dave Roberts Sets Dodgers Rotation
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda, in that order will start Games 1, 2 and 3 of the club’s matchup against the Washington Nationals in the 2016 National League Division Series.

The playoff rotation of Kershaw, Hill and Maeda comes as no surprise. Roberts previously stated his preference is to align his top starters in order, as opposed to breaking up left-handers Kershaw and Hill by using Maeda in Game 2.

The Dodgers on Sunday clinched the NL West division title a fourth consecutive season, which is a first in franchise history. Los Angeles is also the first team in NL West history to win the division four straight years.

With that feather in their cap, there’s still home-field advantage for the Dodgers to play for over their remaining six regular-season games. Entering play Tuesday night, they sit 1.5-games back of the NL East champion Washington Nationals in the standings.

A Nationals team that is limping into the postseason as catcher Wilson Ramos was lost to a torn ACL on Monday night, and Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS due to a right elbow injury.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, seem to have gotten healthy at the right time. Particularly in their starting rotation. Roberts did not commit to a starter for a potential Game 4, though the club has plenty of options in Brett Anderson, Jose De Leon, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Brock Stewart.

Last year, the Dodgers used Kershaw on short rest in an elimination game against the New York Mets. The Dodgers shuffled their rotation for the final week of the regular season, which has Maeda starting Tuesday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres and the regular-season finale against the San Francisco Giants.

Hill, who was scratched from facing the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, starts the opener against the Giants, with Kershaw taking the ball Saturday. He will then be on five days’ rest when the Dodgers open the NLDS on Friday, Oct. 7.

The decision to start Hill on Friday serves a dual purpose. “For Rich, it gives us extra time on the back end for the blister,” Roberts said. “We gave him extra time to get to that Friday start, but then also on the back end for Game 2, it gives him more time.”