2023 NLDS: Dodgers Consider Clayton Kershaw ‘Only Option’ For Potential Game 4 Start

The Los Angeles Dodgers went into the National League Division Series confident in Clayton Kershaw being able to start Game 1 against the Arizona Diamondbacks and later in the best-of-five on regular rest if such a scenario came to be.

Kershaw then allowed six runs and retired just one of eight batters faced on Saturday in the worst start of his career, regular season or playoffs. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remained committed to Kershaw for a start in potential Game 4 immediately after the 11-2 loss, and again on Sunday.

“For me, there’s certain people that get you here that have to get you across the finish line, and this is his role on our ballclub. Game 4 is a ways away. But my thought is learn from the outing and continue to get better and have him start Game 4,” Roberts said.

“So could things somehow change in some crazy world? Maybe. But for me, as I sit here, we’re focused on Game 2, and then pick up the pieces and see what Game 3 looks like. And I couldn’t even sit here and tell you what Game 3 looks like.

“But what I do know is for us to accomplish what we want to this year, we’re going to need Clayton Kershaw to start baseball games. And I’ve got all the confidence in the world that he can do that and he’s going to be just fine.”

Although Kershaw is pitching through an unspecified left shoulder injury, he and the Dodgers have maintained health was not to blame for a drop in fastball velocity during the regular season. The longtime ace got that up to an average of 90.7 mph during Game 1, even if it didn’t correlate to positive results.

“I feel fine. I didn’t make enough good pitches. There’s nothing health-related,” Kershaw said after the game. “Just bad pitching.”

That was a sentiment Roberts echoed during the off day.

“I really don’t believe it’s health. I don’t,” he said. “I think sometimes, as Clayton did, you’ve just got to take your medicine and say I wasn’t good enough on that particular outing. If you look at the stuff, everything was actually a tick up from what it’s been.

“So the recovery, the stuff in-game doesn’t speak to anything with the arm. So for me, it was one of those days that you tip your hat to those guys. … So now it’s kind of how we attack these guys. And, again, we’re looking to see these guys in Game 4. It’s a game of adjustments.”

Dodgers trust Clayton Kershaw

Bobby Miller is starting on Monday, but as Roberts noted, the Dodgers have not finalized a pitching plan for Game 3. But with how Roberts intends to manage those two contests, it requires locking Kershaw into a possible Game 4 start.

“For me, that’s the best option, and I see it as the only option,” Roberts explained. “So I’m going to manage Game 2 like it’s Game 7. And I’m going to do the same thing for Game 3.”

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