It certainly is not what’s preferred, but the Los Angeles Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw have been here before. Needing a win to remain alive in postseason play, Kershaw takes the mound on three days’ rest against the New York Mets in Game 4 of the National League Division Series Tuesday night at Citi Field.
Kershaw started on short rest against the Atlanta Braves at home in the 2013 NLDS, with the Dodgers looking to advance to the NL Championship Series. Last year he faced the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 on the brink of elimination. Kershaw is 0-1 in the two Game 4 starts, but the Dodgers are 1-1.
“I appreciate the confidence that Donnie has, the confidence in me to do it,” Kershaw said during media availability prior to Game 3. “It’s a good feeling to know your manager wants you out there makes you want to prove him right, for sure.”
Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said prior to the NLDS beginning the front office would examine Kershaw’s numbers — including velocity and spin rate — from his previous outings on short rest before determining if they’d rely on their ace in identical fashion this year.
Kershaw tossed six innings in both of the aforementioned Game 4 starts. He allowed two runs (none earned) and had six strikeouts against the Braves. Had nine strikeouts against the Cardinals, and allowed three runs — all on one crack of the bat to Matt Adams in the seventh inning.
What Game 4 against the Mets will hold for Kershaw is of course unknown. However, given the precedent that’s been set, the Dodgers are unlikely to push their horse beyond six innings. Though, based on Kershaw’s comments, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly will need to trust his eyes and instincts when it comes to removing his ace.
“I’ll never admit that I’m tired. That’s what you work for,” Kershaw said. “You want to feel the same pitch one as you do pitch 140, and you want to feel the same in April as you do in October. And I feel like I do. I really do.”