When Saturday rolls around, it won’t matter if the Dodgers are on the brink of clinching a championship or need their best starter to fend off a sweep: Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts won’t start Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 4. It’s a strategy that has worked well for the team and its ace so far this postseason. Kershaw hasn’t needed to take the mound on short rest or been forced to pitch out of the bullpen, as was so often the case during his last several trips through the playoffs.
The result? A 2-0 record and 3.63 ERA in three starts, including six innings of three-hit, five-strikeout ball in Game 5 of the NLCS. Granted, his lone quality start coincided with an explosive performance from the offense as they locked down the pennant with an 11-1 win over the Cubs. The southpaw has also been backed by an airtight bullpen — through 28 2/3 postseason innings, they’ve given up a collective three earned runs and haven’t allowed so much as an extra base hit since Albert Almora Jr. pinch-hit a ground-rule double into the ivy during Game 3 of the Championship Series.
All the parts appear to be working smoothly for the Dodgers, and Roberts doesn’t seem likely to tamper with a tried-and-true formula just yet. That’s not to say he won’t go back on his word — or, like A.J. Hinch did with Justin Verlander and his cadre of pitchers prior to Game 7 of the ALCS, call for an “all hands on deck” approach if the Dodgers’ position starts to look precarious. But for now, it’s easy to believe him. Kershaw has proven more than capable of reversing his postseason blues this October, and should the Dodgers continue to dominate on the road (as they’ll need to do for a sweep), this may all be a moot point come Saturday.