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It’ll be Clayton Kershaw vs. Joe Ross in NLDS Game 4

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I spent all morning talking about who should get the starting pitching nods for Game 4 between the Dodgers and the Nationals. Now we have an actual answer: Joe Ross of the Nats will face off against Clayton Kershaw.

With Kershaw, Dave Roberts is obviously thinking “go with my big guy today and worry about Game 5 on Thursday.” He’s also likely in receipt of a good report from Kershaw about how his back feels. The hope for the Dodgers is that Kershaw can go deep into this game, the back end of the bullpen can finish it off in one or two innings, and then Julio Urias and Rich Hill can tag-team Game 5 with whatever arm isn’t dead come Thursday. If Kershaw it knocked out quickly today, well, maybe all is lost anyway. Or maybe Urias can tag-team with him. That would make Game 5 a REAL mess, but that’s where we are.

As for the Nats, Max Scherzer is waiting for Game 5 regardless. Today it’s Ross, who is certainly well rested as he hasn’t appeared in a game since September 29. He was strong down the stretch after returning from a shoulder injury. The only question is whether he can handle the Dodgers’ left-handed bats (and the right-handed bats which struggle against lefties). If he can’t, Dusty Baker still has some lefties to go to in his pen.

Kershaw or no, the Nats are still pretty firmly in the drivers’ seat.

 

Astros’ Verlander to have elbow surgery, miss rest of season

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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner announced the news Saturday on his Instagram account in a 1½-minute video.

“In my simulated game a couple days ago, I felt something in my elbow, and after looking at my MRI and conversing with some of the best doctors in the world, we’ve determined that Tommy John surgery is my best option,” Verlander said.

He threw to hitters on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in the team’s opener on July 24. He threw 50 pitches in the bullpen before throwing about 25 pitches to hitters in two simulated innings.

“I tried as hard as I could to come back and play this season,” Verlander said. “Unfortunately, my body just didn’t cooperate.”

Verlander has been on the injured list with a right forearm strain. He went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 2019.

“Obviously, this is not good news,” Verlander said. “However, I’m going to handle this the only way I know how. I’m optimistic. I’m going to put my head down, work hard, attack this rehab and hopefully, come out the other side better for it.

“I truly believe everything that everything happens for a reason, and although 2020 has sucked, hopefully, when this rehab process is all said and done, this will allow me to charge through the end of my career and be healthy as long as I want and pitch as long as I want and accomplish some of the goals that I want in my career.”

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