Clayton Kershaw ‘Didn’t Really Expect’ To Be In Position To Start For Dodgers In NLDS

Clayton Kershaw was effective in his final tuneup before the postseason and now is slated to start for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Saturday.

If the Dodgers give the ball to the left-hander as expected, it would be his sixth career start in an NLDS opener and first since 2017. Bobby Miller would then get the nod in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw is in his 16th season and has continued to pitch at a high level despite being limited by various injuries over recent years. He is currently navigating an unspecified left shoulder issue that has affected his fastball velocity and command.

Kershaw acknowledged his difficult season and appreciates the opportunity to start for the Dodgers in the NLDS, per Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:

“Whenever it is, I’m just excited to get to do it,” Kershaw said. “With the way this year kind of went, I didn’t really expect to be in this spot for a lot of reasons. But it’s here and if that happens, I’ll be ready.”

After being activated off the 15-day injured list in early August, Kershaw posted a solid 2.23 ERA in his final eight starts of the regular season.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner went an overall 13-5 with a 2.46 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 1.06 WHIP and 9.4 strikeouts per nine across 131.2 innings pitched in 24 starts, which was his highest total since 2019.

Clayton Kershaw benefitting from ‘college schedule’

The Dodgers have helped Kershaw manage his shoulder injury by giving him more rest in between starts. He has exclusively pitched on Saturday since September 16, which the 35-year-old jokingly referred to as a “college schedule.”

The NLDS opens on Saturday, and if Kershaw takes the mound as anticipated, it would line him up to start a potential Game 5. That of course will depend on whether the Dodgers go with a three- or four-man starting rotation, and if they are comfortable possibly having Kershaw start on just regular rest.

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