As the start of the postseason draws closer, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the luxury of aligning their starting rotation order to get it exactly how they want for the three-game Wild Card Series.
While there is no doubt that Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw are the Dodgers’ best two starters, the latter has pitched particularly well this season. Kershaw historically has pitched the first game of the playoffs, but the Dodgers went to Hyun-Jin Ryu in 2018 and Buehler last year.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “Walker and I will both be ready. I heard he threw fine, made it through six or seven innings. Looking forward to seeing him back out there against Oakland. Whenever Walker and I start, we don’t care. We’ll be good.”
Kershaw just authored another strong start on Saturday night in which he tossed seven innings of one-run ball while allowing just four hits with six strikeouts and no walks. In nine starts this season, Kershaw is 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA, 2.95 FIP and 0.76 WHIP with 59 strikeouts and eight walks in 54.1 innings.
This year is truly a unique one as both Kershaw and Buehler will head into the postseason with far fewer starts than normal. “It’s weird, obviously. Only getting 10 starts, especially because I missed the first couple of the season,” Kershaw said. “All to say it’s just been a big build to the postseason
This is the first time L.A. will have to play a best-of-three Wild Card Series before possibly onto the National League Division Series. That’s despite having the best record in all of baseball.
“At the end of the day, with this playoff format, one through eight, it doesn’t matter what seed you are; you play three games against somebody,” Kershaw said.
“I don’t particularly like it, especially when you have a good team. It doesn’t really give us any advantage at all. But at the end of the day, it is a big build to the postseason and we’re getting ready for that.”
There still are a number of different teams the Dodgers could face in the first round, so Kershaw isn’t doing too much scoreboard watching.
“It changes like every day,” he said with a laugh. “There’s no point in looking. I feel like it’s one team and then there’s six other teams that it changes between every day. This is a one-year deal, and we understand that. Once the postseason starts we’ll be ready for whoever gets there.”
Roberts non-comital on postseason rotation order
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts does not have a set rotation for the postseason yet, but there is no doubt that Buehler and Kershaw will throw the first two games, in some order.
“We’ve still got Walker on Thursday and Clayton on Friday, and we have the extra day with both guys, so we have time. We’re just not prepared to make that decision,” Roberts said.
“I just do know that both guys really don’t care where they start. I can assure you it’s going to be (Games) 1 and 2, but it really doesn’t matter.”
Kershaw’s final regular-season tuneup will come on Friday against the L.A. Angels. Roberts is not yet sure if he will have a full workload or if it will be a shortened start.
“I don’t think we’re going to push him crazily, but knowing he’s got an extra day or two after that start, and coming off an extra day, I want to pitch him,” he said. “And I know he wants to pitch. We’ll talk. I think Clayton certainly deserves to be part of that situation.”
Kershaw has been in this spot plenty of times before, so he certainly knows what is best for him in his final start before taking the mound in meaningful postseason games.
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