Final Score: Atlanta Braves, 3 @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 4
As the clock struck 6:37 PM, thus began the great Clayton-Kershaw-on-three-days’-rest experiment.
Kershaw looked great, believe it or not. He was sharp–moreso than in Game 1, actually–and he was getting good velocity on his fastball. He delivered 6 innings with 6 K’s and just one walk, allowing no earned runs.
That said, the Braves did score two in the top of the 4th, but it’s hard to place the blame too much on Kershaw. Though he gave up two hits, the real damage came from a bad throw from Adrian Gonzalez in an attempt to turn a double play (resulting in 0 outs), a “wild pitch” (arguably A.J. Ellis’s fault) to move the runners to second and third, and a poor throw by Mark Ellis on what ought to have been an inning-ending double play (but instead allowed the tying run to score).
By the time Kershaw’s night was over, he’d thrown 91 pitches.
How will it affect him going forward? I’m not a trainer or a doctor or a pitcher or any kind of expert, really, so I can’t claim to have any idea. I just hope it was worth the risk.
All of the Dodger offense was the result of DINGERS. You could say Carl Crawford really wanted the NLDS to end tonight. In both of his first two at bats, he hit solo home runs.
Freddy Garcia managed to keep the Dodgers relatively quiet after that. The tie was broken when the Braves jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the top of the 7th at Ronald Belisario’s expense. J.P. Howell had to come in and get out of that inning.
After Brian Wilson delivered a scoreless top of the 8th, Yasiel Puig led off the bottom frame with a double to right. For some inexplicable reason, Juan Uribe was sent to the plate with an order to bunt. The first two attempts went awry, so instead, Uribe decided to drive a ball to the Dodgers’ bullpen to give the Dodgers the lead.
Thus, Kenley Jansen was tasked with closing it out. He struck out the side, because that’s what Kenley does.
And, with that, the Dodgers have completed the first step in their postseason journey, and will advance to the next round.
Game one of the National League Championship Series (!!) is this Friday. Zack Greinke will get the ball for the Dodgers. They’ll either be going to St. Louis to face the Cardinals, or the Pirates will be coming to Los Angeles. We’ll find out on Wednesday.
So the Dodgers have opted to have Clayton Kershaw start tonight's game over Ricky Nolasco
And I’m hardly in love with this decision.
Kershaw threw 124 pitches on Thursday. That’s a lot of pitches (the third most of Kershaw’s career, in fact [x]). It also means he’s going on three days’ rest, which he has never done before.
I guess there’s a way for this to work. Keep him on a pitch and/or innings limit–I’d say letting him go beyond 100 pitches (and that’s pushing it far too much for my comfort) or 6 innings (unless he’s REALLY cruising) is practically negligent. Something like 75 pitches/5 innings is far more ideal.
Everyone from the bullpen save for Brian Wilson and Chris Withrow got into the game yesterday. They’ll have to be utilized. Kenley Jansen only threw 4 pitches, and there’ll be at least one day of rest before the next game (hopefully it’ll be three), so he should be good to go for the 9th inning.
And, of course, others have noted that Ricky Nolasco is still around for long relief, should it be necessary. I’m in favor of getting him in the game to at least face a few batters and see how he fares. If he can do more, great. If not…well, that doesn’t leave me feeling great about the Dodgers’ rotation going forward in the playoffs.
I really hope this decision pays off. This sort of thing has repercussions far beyond this one series.