Clayton Kershaw starts Saturday on short rest in effort to help the Los Angeles Dodgers maximize off days and continue to forge ahead with a four-man rotation in the wake of Dustin May needing to undergo Tommy John surgery.
L.A. had the option of going with a bullpen game against the L.A. Angels, but they effectively had three of those in four contests. The latest of which was due to Kershaw managing to pitch all of one inning against the Chicago Cubs in the shortest start of his career.
“I think it was just kind of what happened his last start and just feeling he can get back out there on short rest because he didn’t exert too much as far as large sample in that start,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He feels good about it, we feel good about it.”
That Kershaw is taking the mound on three days’ rest also is another indication he is in good health. That of course hasn’t always been the case in past seasons as Kershaw has dealt with back trouble and shoulder inflammation.
“We obviously know Clayton’s history, but as far as where he’s at in recent history and currently, physically he’s in a great spot,” Roberts assured. “It just made a decision for us. In past years we probably wouldn’t have done this.”
If not a bullpen game or Kershaw, starting Trevor Bauer on short rest was another possibility. Bauer last pitched on the same day as Kershaw — in the nightcap of the doubleheader — but threw 90 pitches over 4.1 innings.
“We kicked that around as well, but what he went through and the length, it just kind of made our decision a little bit easier,” Roberts explained.
Saturday will mark the first time Kershaw has started on short rest during the regular season. In September 2008, he threw an inning out of the bullpen four days after a start. Roberts doesn’t anticipate having much more of a watchful eye than any normal outing.
Dodgers’ DH plans
With Kershaw on the mound, Austin Barnes will catch Saturday. Roberts said Will Smith likely will be utilized as the designated hitter. He has done so in the past, and such a decision is all the easier at present time due to Keibert Ruiz still being on the active roster.
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