Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw should be LA’s third playoff starter
Lower rotation slot, lower expectations
This is an interesting season for Clayton Kershaw. He seems to have finally accepted that he is no longer the dominant pitcher he once was and will likely be able to accept taking the third spot in the rotation order. Something that would’ve been unimaginable a few seasons ago. Kershaw will finish with an ERA above three for the first time since his rookie season.
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Every season of Kershaw’s career he has been counted as the ace of the staff and had the most pressure in the postseason. This season he won’t face the same type of pressure with Ryu in Cy Young contention and Walker Buehler capable of shutting down any opposing lineup. The Dodgers can ease Kershaw’s burden by starting him third.
It is unlikely that the Dodgers will pitch Kershaw on three days rest like they used to, so while he would only be able to start one game of the NLDS, it would put him in line to start early in the National League Championship Series, should the Dodgers make it as they are expected to. That would set Clayton up to pitch twice in the NLCS on regular rest.
Ultimately, the Dodgers enter the postseason with the best starting rotation in the National League and one of the best rotations in the entire postseason. While the order their starters are put in may not make too much of a difference, on paper it makes sense to start Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler in the first two games of the NLDS. That would make Kershaw LA’s third playoff starter entering the postseason.