2016 NLDS: Dodgers Consider Clayton Kershaw An Option, Not A Lock, To Start Potential Game 4
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals haven’t so much as began their National League Division Series matchup, but there’s already been discussion this week centered around a potential Game 4.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has stated on multiple occasions that Julio Urias is viewed as the fourth starter for the postseason. But if recent history is any indication, Urias won’t take the ball in such game.

Clayton Kershaw starts Game 1 on Friday, and may very well return on short rest four days later at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers, however, don’t consider that to be a forgone conclusion.

“For us, we know he’s going to pitch Game 1. Outside of that, we’ll make that decision going forward,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. He feels good, he feels strong. I told Clayton let’s get through Game 1, then we’ll revisit.”

Since the Dodgers began their string of NL West titles in 2013, Kershaw has started in the playoffs on short rest on three separate occasions. Los Angeles is 2-1 in those games. They advanced to the NL Championship Series in 2013, were eliminated in the NLDS in 2014, and forced a Game 5 in last year’s NLDS.

While Kershaw missed 75 days while recovering from a mild disc herniation, and therefore didn’t log his customary 200-plus innings, the aforementioned back injury may be reason to pause.

“We’ll get through Game 1, see how he feels, and assess from there,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “Just take it game-by-game and see where we’re at.”

Nor Friedman or Roberts have a philosophy on using a pitcher on short rest. They agreed each situation is unique and based on the specific player. “I think you really have to be around the guy in question to get a sense for how they recover, and what risk you’re possibly introducing,” Friedman explained.

“Kersh has obviously done it, and the way he’s pitched and bounced back, he does everything he possibly can during the offseason and season to possibly [start on short rest].”