The Los Angeles Dodgers officially announced Clayton Kershaw will start Sunday against the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. It will mark the third outing for Kershaw in the past six days.
“I feel fine,” Kershaw said during a press conference on Saturday. “I feel good. I’m not going in with any restrictions.” With the Dodgers on the brink of elimination, he started on Tuesday in Game 4 of the NL Division Series on three days’ rest.
Kershaw threw 110 pitches over 6.2 innings, and exited with a 5-2, though left the bases loaded; the Dodgers bullpen allowed all three inherited runners to score.
Los Angeles forced a decisive Game 5 behind Chase Utley’s go-ahead single in the eighth inning. Although Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw would “absolutely not” pitch in the winner-take-all game Thursday night, that changed.
Rich Hill only managed to pitch 2.2 innings, which forced Joe Blanton and Kenley Jansen into early relief appearances.
Jansen entered in the seventh inning and gave the Dodgers a career-high 51 pitches over 2.2 shutout frames. Jansen said his focus was to get the team out of trouble, not worry about waiting until the ninth inning.
Jansen’s willingness to answer the bell for the Dodgers influenced Kershaw to coax Roberts into allowing him to pitch. Kershaw entered with two runners on and one out in the ninth inning.
He needed all of seven pitches to retire Daniel Murphy and strikeout pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo to record his first save in the Majors. Kershaw did not throw his customary between-starts bullpen session that night, which made his taking the mound in Game 2 all the more feasible.
Roberts previously reported his ace came out of his relief appearance in good health. “He’s tracking to start when we all think,” Roberts said prior to his club’s workout at Wrigley Field on Friday.
Roberts announced Rich Hill will start on Tuesday in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium. The club has not yet determined a Game 4 starter.