The Los Angeles Dodgers dropped Game 1 of the NLDS in embarrassing fashion. The Arizona Diamondbacks dropped 11 runs on the Dodgers, chasing Clayton Kershaw off the mound after he recorded just one out.
Arizona scored five runs against Kershaw before he could record a single out. After the Diamondbacks scored a sixth with one out Dave Roberts was forced to go out and pull Kershaw prematurely. The game was all but over after that.
This left a lot of lingering questions about Kershaw and his future. While Kershaw's long-term future is still unclear, Dodgers fans at least know what his short-term future holds: he will be on the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS in Arizona (assuming the Dodgers don't get swept).
Dodgers' plan to start Clayton Kershaw in Game 4 is nonsensical
As much as Dodgers fans love Clayton Kershaw and all he has done for the team, this is the last thing that the fanbase wanted to hear after Saturday's game. Just because Kershaw struggled in Game 1 doesn't mean that he will inherently struggle again in Game 4 but this still makes absolutely no sense.
By committing to Kershaw in Game 4, the Dodgers are tipping their hand that they are going to be running a three-man rotation in the NLDS. Granted, the extra days off between games certainly make that easier but that is not the best usage of the team's resources.
This is a 35-year-old pitcher with more miles on his arm than any other player on the team. Kershaw literally has been dealing with a lingering shoulder issue that has limited him to 4-5 innings per start. So what are the Dodgers going to do? Jump Ryan Pepiot or Lance Lynn in the rotation so Kershaw can give it another go.
Roberts may say that Kershaw's start was not the result of an injury. Fine. But that has not been the tune leading up to October as the team (and Kershaw) have been very open that his shoulder is not 100%.
Game 4 would be on Thursday, which would give Kershaw his usual four days of rest. It isn't a short-rest problem. It is the fact that the team would rather put faith in someone with a hurt shoulder who just got rocked over one of the other starting pitchers in the rotation.
Are we going to see Pepiot or Lynn out of the bullpen in Game 2 or 3? Will Kershaw have a short leash in Game 4 with either of the right-handers penciled in to take the bulk of the innings behind him? It is unclear at this moment but one thing is clear.
After a disastrous start in Game 1 of the NLDS, Kershaw may be pitching with the Dodgers' season on the line just five days later. If history tells us anything with Kershaw in the playoffs, this might end up backfiring.