Dodgers Roundtable: Should Clayton Kershaw Start In Game 5 Of NLCS?
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

At the time of naming Julio Urias the starter for Game 4 of the National League Division Series, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kenta Maeda was slated for Game 5. However, Roberts added that could change — insinuating Clayton Kershaw may instead take the ball.

But with Los Angeles taking Game 3, they will enter play Thursday no worse than tied at 2-2 in the best-of-seven NLCS. Roberts on Tuesday reiterated his stance that the club had not altered their stance for Game 5.

If they do elect to go with Kershaw, it’ll be the second time this postseason he starts on short rest.

However, benefits include giving Maeda additional rest prior to what would be his next start — in a potential Game 6.

Starting Kershaw on Thursday would also leave open the possibility of using him in relief during a possible Game 6 or Game 7.

But Kershaw also missed two months this season while recovering from a mild disc herniation. Pitching two more times in the NLCS would be asking a lot.

So which direction should the Dodgers go in? The staff weighed in:

Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015)

I truly went back and forth with my decision, because of concern over Kershaw’s health and how much he’s already pitched this postseason. I ultimately decided that I would start him in Game 5.

Obviously if you’re the Dodgers you wouldn’t want anyone else on the mound if you’re in position to eliminate the Cubs and advance to the World Series. By that same token, you can ill-afford to return to Wrigley Field trailing in the series.

If the NLCS does head back to Chicago, the Dodgers would be in much better standing with a 3-2 series lead and needing one win out of two games. Starting Kershaw in Game 5 would also make it more feasible for him to again pitch out of the bullpen.

But whether the Dodgers are leading the NLCS, 3-1, or tied, I would have a relatively short leash on Thursday. There’s no reason to push Kershaw if it’s evident he doesn’t quite have ‘it.’

Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):

To me the decision on whether to start Kershaw in Game 5 or not depends on the outcome in Game 4. If the Dodgers win and go up 3-1, I would throw Maeda in Game 5 and save Kershaw for Game 6.

If they lose and the series is tied 2-2, then I would pitch Kershaw because the Dodgers cannot afford to go down in the series heading back to Chicago. If he does pitch Game 5 then it would set Kershaw up for a relief appearance in a possible Game 7, much like he did in the NLDS.

Matt Borelli (@MattDodgerBlue):

Yes, I would start Kershaw in Game 5.

If the NLDS was any indication, Kershaw is only stronger on short rest and will have the opportunity to clinch the series at home should the Dodgers win on Wednesday.

Not only that, but if the series heads back to Wrigley Field, he’ll have a chance to potentially pitch out of relief in Game 7 — similar to his outing in Game 5 of the NLDS.

It wouldn’t be a bad decision having Kershaw start on five days’ rest in Chicago, but I’d rather see him two more times this series rather than one.

Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel):

Yes. Absolutely. Unquestionably.

Look, you take nothing for granted in the playoffs and so regardless of the series, I’m putting Kershaw on the mount whenever I can.

If he starts Game 5, it means more rest for a relief appearance (if needed) should the series go to Game 7. If the Dodgers advance, he’s ready for Game 1 of the World Series.

Give me Kershaw, Maeda and Rich Hill in Games 5, 6 and 7, and don’t even think twice, please.

Eric Avakian (@AvakEric):

Starting Kershaw in Game 5 is a huge risk. The payoff can potentially secure a World Series berth, but a loss would hinder all momentum going back to Wrigley Field.

If the Dodgers lose Game 4, I would hold Kershaw off. If the Dodgers are to win Game 4, I would start him in Game 5. The opportunity for him to pitch at home, in a comfortable setting, may aide another dominant Kershaw-esque outing.

Seeing Kershaw on the mound, after only three days’ rest, should boost the offense, as they ride the back of their workhorse. As the leader of this team, Kershaw wants the ball in his hands in any big-game situation.

A Game 5 at Dodger Stadium with the opportunity to secure a trip to the World Series sounds like something Kershaw would feast upon.

Jared Massey (@JarredJMassey):

It all depends on the situation. If the Dodgers win Game 4, I’d say the Dodgers should let Maeda take another turn and hope they can wrap the series at home, with Kershaw and Hill lined up to open the World Series.

If the Dodgers lose and the series is tied 2-2, I think Kershaw has to go on short rest to try to give the Dodgers an advantage heading back to Chicago. They’d also be facing Jon Lester, and we all know how much they’ve struggled against lefties.