The Los Angeles Dodgers postseason pitching staff is hardly settled, nor is their starting rotation for October, but what can be expected is Clayton Kershaw and Bobby Miller factoring into the first two games of the National League Division Series.
Having already indicated Miller would start Game 1 or 2 of the NLDS, manager Dave Roberts now committed to as much with Kershaw as well when asked if the longtime ace would start the Dodgers’ 2023 postseason opener.
“I don’t think that’s fair to anybody,” Roberts said. “I don’t think Clayton would want that either. I think that it’s just more of, certainly if he’s pitching and fine to pitch, he’s going to be pitching in one of those first two games. I mean, that’s pretty easy to say.”
While the Dodgers remain mathematically alive to catch the Atlanta Braves for best record in the National League, their more probable outlook is securing the No. 2 seed. That would leave them on the same side of the NL postseason bracket as the Nos. 3 and 6 teams from a Wild Card Series.
Who the final members in the Dodgers bullpen are is potentially dependent on their NLDS opponent, but deciding between Kershaw and Miller for Games 1 and 2 won’t be dictated by such.
“I think that we’re getting a first-round bye. So I don’t think that the opponent has anything to do with how we’ll do the rotation,” Roberts said.
“I think that we’re still having conversations. I think it’s fair to say Bobby’s going to pitch one of the first two games and I think it’s fair to say that Clayton will. So I think that’s kind of irregardless of which opponent we play.”
Kershaw has not started the Dodgers’ first playoff game since the 2017 NLDS.
Clayton Kershaw has value on Dodgers postseason staff
Although the 35-year-old has dealt with an unspecified left shoulder injury since just before the All-Star break, Kershaw and the Dodgers have maintained confidence in his ability to continue pitching despite not being 100%.
“It’s remarkable. It really is. I think that Clayton is the first to tell you he doesn’t like to use anything as an excuse or talk about anything. But I know what’s going on, I just have so much respect for him,” Roberts said.
“And people can’t do what he can do. I remember there was a start here a few years ago where I think he was throwing 82 miles an hour in a day game where his back went out. And he found a way to get three or four innings of zero-hit baseball or no runs.
“I don’t know how he was doing it. And he ended up going on the IL right after that. So he just sort of wills himself to get guys out.”
Kershaw’s ability — and willingness — to give the Dodgers everything he has is valued by the franchise.
“It’s important because what he means to our team and what he’s done. So it’s important to have him on the roster and pitch,” Roberts said. “It makes everybody better given the youth of our pitching staff or not. It’s still just important to have Clayton. I still believe in the talent that we have.
“But yeah, Clayton, he just does so many things for our pitching staff.”
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