Dave Roberts has to give Clayton Kershaw the ball in Game 4

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UPDATE: Kershaw gets the nod.

7:55 AM: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has a big decision to make for today’s NLDS Game 4: bring back Clayton Kershaw on short rest to face the Nationals or, alternatively, go with rookie Julio Urias, who is fully rested. As late as last night he had still not named his starting pitcher for today. In our view, however, there’s no choice at all: he has to go with his ace.

Yes, there are factors which may argue in favor of Urias, the most obvious being that he’s fully rested. He likewise pitched fantastically in August and September, although he pitched in relief in three of those outings and a couple of his starts were short, get-your-work in affairs. But c’mon, is a rookie manager going to go with a 20-year-old rookie starter in an elimination game when he has Clayton Kershaw sitting right there?

People who say “yes” to that have some data to back them up in the form of  overall numbers suggesting that, generally speaking, starters on short rest do not do too well in the postseason. Indeed, in the Wild Card era (1995-present) there have been 121 playoff games in which pitchers have been used on short rest. They are a combined 35-40, with a 4.35 ERA. Which looks even worse when you realize that managers tend to use their best pitchers, not their worst, on short rest. If your ace is posting a 4.35 ERA, your ace is not doing his job.

Kershaw, though, has been an exception to that rule. He’s pitched on short rest in each of the past three seasons. And he’s pitched pretty well:

  • On short rest in last year’s NLDS Game 4 against the Mets, Kershaw allowed one run over seven innings to get the win and help the Dodgers stave off elimination for one more game;
  • In 2014 he did the same Friday-Tuesday NLDS Game 1/Game 4 thing on short rest against the Cardinals, allowing three runs in six innings, taking the loss. Not great, but not a disaster; and
  • In 2013 he pitched Game 4 of the NLDS against the Braves on short rest, allowing zero earned runs, but two unearned runs, in six innings. There he got the no-decision but the Dodgers prevailed in the infamous Craig Kimbrel-standing-in-the-bullpen-watching-it-all-unfold game.

So, overall, in three short rest playoff starts, Kershaw is 1-1 and has struck out 23 batters with just four walks and posted a 1.89 ERA. He has, in the past, done what the Dodgers need him to do today.

The only caveat in play, of course, is how Kershaw is feeling. Remember, he missed a lot of time with injury this year. And he labored pretty heavily in Game 1 of this series. He only went five innings and his pitch count wasn’t eye-popping, but it was high for just five innings and a lot of those pitchers were in high stress situations. There’s also the matter of who in the heck pitches the deciding Game 5 if Kershaw goes today and wins. We’ll leave that part of the analysis to Leo Durocher, though:


Still I think Dave Roberts has to give Kershaw the ball today. If he falters, he has Urias, who has made several mutlti-inning relief appearances in his rookie year. Think of them as being piggy-backed, perhaps. But think of Clayton Kershaw as the man you want when your entire season hangs in the balance. If Dave Roberts gambles on Kershaw today and loses, well, he lost with his best. If he gambles on Urias today and loses while Kershaw is left sitting for a game that may never come, it’ll be a long, cold winter of “what ifs.”

New bill to build Athletics stadium on Las Vegas Strip caps Nevada’s cost at $380 million

D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
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CARSON CITY, Nev. — A bill introduced in the Nevada Legislature would give the Oakland Athletics up to $380 million for a potential 30,000 seat, $1.5 billion retractable roof stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

The bulk of the public funding would come from $180 million in transferable tax credits from the state and $120 million in county bonds, which can vary based on interest rate returns. Clark County also would contribute $25 million in credit toward infrastructure costs.

The A’s have been looking for a home to replace Oakland Coliseum, where the team has played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The team had sought to build a stadium in Fremont, San Jose and finally the Oakland waterfront, all ideas that never materialized.

The plan in the Nevada Legislature won’t directly raise taxes. It can move forward with a simply majority vote in the Senate and Assembly. Lawmakers have a little more than a week to consider the proposal before they adjourn June 5, though it could be voted on if a special session is called.

The Athletics have agreed to use land on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort sits. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has said he is disappointed the team didn’t negotiate with Oakland as a “true partner.”

Las Vegas would be the fourth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-54. It would become the smallest TV market in Major League Baseball and the smallest market to be home to three major professional sports franchises.

The team and Las Vegas are hoping to draw from the nearly 40 million tourists who visit the city annually to help fill the stadium. The 30,000-seat capacity would make it the smallest MLB stadium.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said a vote on the Oakland Athletics’ prospective move to Las Vegas could take place when owners meet June 13-15 in New York.

The plan faces an uncertain path in the Nevada Legislature. Democratic leaders said financing bills, including for the A’s, may not go through if Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoes the five budget bills, which he has threatened to do as many of his priorities have stalled or faded in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

Under the bill, the Clark County Board of Commissioners would create a homelessness prevention and assistance fund along the stadium’s area in coordination with MLB and the Nevada Resort Association. There, they would manage funds for services, including emergency rental and utility assistance, job training, rehabilitation and counseling services for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The lease agreement with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority would be up for renewal after 30 years.

Nevada’s legislative leadership is reviewing the proposal, Democratic state Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager said in a statement.

“No commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from interested parties, including impacted community members,” Yeager said.