Dave Roberts won’t start Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 4

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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.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.