Dodgers uncertain how injuries may affect pitchers' postseason usage
By Carlos Collazo
SAN DIEGO -- While Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill have been penciled in to Games 1 and 2, respectively of the National League Division Series vs. the Nationals, their usage after that is still up in the air.
Los Angeles has still not decided on a No. 4 starter after Kenta Maeda, and with Kershaw and Hill both dealing with injury issues, pitching on short rest isn't an automatic answer to that Game 4 situation.
"Right now it's hard to predict. I think that Clayton's [pitched on short rest] before in the past, and I don't know if Rich has," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "I don't think he has. And so I think that's something that we'll talk about as we get closer.
"And obviously it's all contingent upon how the series is going. As far as setting our roster, I don't think that any team sets their roster for three starting pitchers, so you're going to have some length."
Jose De Leon and Julio Urias are trying to make their case for being the fourth starter as Kershaw's back injury doesn't make the decision to have him start both Games 1 and 4 as straightforward as it was in 2015 vs. the Mets. Urias starts Thursday's series finale in San Diego.
"I think it's definitely an issue," Roberts said of Kershaw's back. "I think that obviously with Clayton's track record, and no one knows his body better than he does, I think that's a conversation that it would be an honest conversation, depending on where we're at."
Roberts added that he was not prepared to have that conversation just yet.
Hill wouldn't be able to make that start regardless, but the 36-year-old has been trying to alleviate his blister issues by developing a callus on his throwing hand, with side work and just playing catch.
"Give him extra days on the front end, the back end. It's something that's a day-to-day thing really," Roberts said. "Hopefully we're trying to figure things out, but right now he just threw today and feels good. So hopefully [he] continues to get better tomorrow."
Carlos Collazo is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @CarlosACollazo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.