For a fifth consecutive October the Los Angeles Dodgers have vowed Clayton Kershaw will not start a potential Game 4 of the National League Division Series on short rest. In each of the past four years he has done just that.
On Thursday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts officially named Alex Wood the club’s fourth starter. Wood was selected ahead of Hyun-Jin Ryu, who in turn is being left off the NLDS roster because he is not comfortable with pitching out of the bullpen.
While Roberts previously shared the Dodgers did not plan on Kershaw taking the ball in a possible Game 4, the second-year manager doubled down on that stance before his team’s NLDS workout.
“Set in stone. Set in stone. If there is a Game 4, Alex Wood will start Game 4. Clayton won’t go on short rest,” Roberts said.
Wood’s emergence this season, coupled with the trade-deadline acquisition of Yu Darvish, has the Dodgers in their strongest position yet to not rely on Kershaw for any heroics. “I can’t speak to two years ago or years prior with Clayton, but we’ve assured him that he doesn’t need to prepare for going on short rest,” Roberts added.
Last October, not only did the Dodgers ace start Game 4, he pitched in relief two days later to convert a save and send the team to the NL Championship Series.
While the scenario has been ruled out for the NLDS, Roberts stopped short of committing to the Dodgers not asking Kershaw to take mound without regular rest should they advance in the playoffs.
Of course, if the Dodgers are facing elimination in Game 4 of the NLDS, it’s difficult to fathom anyone but Kershaw would start.
“Usually how that stuff happens is when Game 4 rolls around, things change,” he said. “But it really sounds like that’s not going to happen this year. But I’ll worry about that when it happens.”
First for Kershaw and the Dodgers is Game 1 Friday night against an Arizona Diamondbacks team that is countering with Taijuan Walker due to burning Robbie Ray in relief during the NL Wild Card Game.