Dodgers Value Flexibility With NLCS Rotation After Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw

The Los Angeles Dodgers are poised to begin the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves the same way they did the Wild Card round and NL Division Series: Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw starting Games 1 and 2, respectively, and a bevy of options to follow.

The Dodgers had no need for a third starter against the Milwaukee Brewers due to sweeping the best-of-three series. They turned to Dustin May as an opener in Game 3 against the San Diego Padres, then asked Julio Urias to fill the role of bulk relief pitcher.

Matters become a little more complicated for the NLCS due to it being a best-of-seven, but Roberts is comfortable in the Dodgers’ open-ended approach. “I just don’t think it makes sense for us to close optionality in Games 1 and 2 and 3 and 4,” he said.

“For us, we know (Games) 1 and 2, and I honestly don’t know who (Games) 3, 4 and 5 (starters) are until we need to answer that question. … It’s more of a discussion where you try to optimize your talent, your arms, matchups, to get 27 outs.

“However we decided to do that, another team decides to do that, there’s a lot that goes into it. When you’re talking about the options that we have, they’re all pretty dang good.”

The Braves have a right-handed heavy lineup, but hit same side pitching better than southpaws. That could be impetus for the Dodgers to use Urias as a piggyback to Buehler — just as they did in Game 1 against the A’s.

Tony Gonsolin, who was due to pitch — likely starting — in Game 4 of the NLDS, participated in a simulated game on Saturday. Normal rest would line him up to pitch again Thursday, which is the night of Game 4 between the Dodgers and Braves.

Dodgers counting on Urias

While there are multiple directions the Dodgers could go in after Buehler and Kershaw, it is likely Urias who would potentially fill multiple roles in the NLCS.

“He’s going to pitch very meaningful innings,” Roberts said. “It’s great. In theory, on paper, you can look at matchups and say that it could work, but until you really do it, and the player’s mind and experience has to be a factor.

“Julio’s done it, he’s had success in all roles, so it makes us feel more confident. With that said, whatever role we put him in, I know he’s going to be ready.”

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