Never mind the heavy workload and short rest, Clayton Kershaw insisted he is ready to pitch again.
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace will start Game 2 of the N.L. Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night after pitching in all three wins during the Division Series against Washington. That included a two-out save in the decisive Game 5 on Thursday night.
The three-time N.L. Cy Young Award winner is 3-6 with a 4.79 ERA in 16 career playoff appearances, including 12 starts.
“Yeah, I feel fine,” Kershaw said. “It’s been a little bit since we got to do this, and Wrigley Field, it’s going to be pretty exciting.”
Kyle Hendricks gets the ball for the Cubs in Game 2. The right-hander went 16-8 with a major league-best 2.13 ERA this season but left his Division Series start against San Francisco after taking a comebacker off his right forearm.
Kershaw hasn’t faced Chicago this year. The same was true for Game 1 starter Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill, who was acquired from Oakland on Aug. 1 and will open Game 3. Manager Dave Roberts said he has not decided who will start Game 4.
Kershaw came out of bullpen to get the final two outs for his first major league save and close out the division series, two days after throwing 110 pitches in Game 4 on short rest. Roberts called it a “no-brainer” to go with Kershaw once his ace told him he was feeling fine.
“It’s just more of just getting assurance that he feels good physically, which he does, and so it’s one of those things, obviously, when you get a chance for Clayton to pitch Games 2 and potentially 6, that’s a good thing for us,” Roberts said. “And, yeah, it’s full go.”
Kershaw figures to be challenged by a team that led the majors with 103 wins – 12 more than Los Angeles. The Cubs were second in on-base percentage and third in runs scored during the regular season.
Chicago took three of four from Los Angeles in a low-scoring series at Wrigley Field from May 30 to June 2, getting wins from Jon Lester and Hendricks. Los Angeles won two of three meetings at home in late August, dropping the opener 6-4 in 10 innings before winning the final two games 3-2 and 1-0.
“I think that they’re constantly working counts, getting into good hitters counts, getting on base,” Kershaw said. “And that’s something that is difficult for a starting pitcher. You got to – you want to limit the damage but at the same time you can’t go for four innings, a hundred pitches. So you got to figure out how to get these guys out with quality pitches quickly. And it’s not an easy task.”
Bauer’s start moved
Trevor Bauer’s stitched finger has improved, but the Indians won’t be certain of his effectiveness until he pitches.
Bauer sliced open his right pinkie while repairing a drone Thursday night. The wound required 11 stitches. Bauer, who needed 11 stitches to close the wound, had been scheduled to pitch Game 2 on Saturday, but is now slated to pitch Game 3 on Monday in Toronto.
Manager Terry Francona said the Indians remain confident Bauer will make his now-delayed start.
“You hope that it wouldn’t interfere with his touch and feel,” he said before Game 2. “I don’t think that’s an issue. He’s already thrown twice. Then, we just have to make sure that that thing doesn’t open up where it’s bleeding, because then they won’t let him pitch. It needs to close. So, while he’s doing his throwing and things, he needs to make sure he keeps this thing not aggravated or pulling the stitches away. So far, he’s done a good job. The thing is healing nice.”
Clearing the bases
The Chicago Cubs added rookie lefty Rob Zastryzny to their roster for the N.L. Championship Series against the Dodgers. … Los Angeles is going with 12 pitchers for the best-of-seven series. Outfielder Enrique Hernandez and righty Alex Wood made the roster, while infielder Charlie Culberson and catcher Austin Barnes were left off the list for this round. … Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis returned to Toronto on for more tests on his injured knee. Travis has been replaced by first baseman Justin Smoak.
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