Rainout affects future NLDS start for Kershaw

Dodgers likely to go with Urias in potential G4, rather than ace on short rest; Clayton could go in G5

Rainout affects future NLDS start for Kershaw

WASHINGTON -- Saturday's rainout of Game 2 of the National League Division Series complicates the Dodgers' plans of bringing back Clayton Kershaw to pitch on short rest in a potential Game 4 on Tuesday, which manager Dave Roberts confirmed had been "on the table."

The postponement means that Rich Hill, now scheduled to start Game 2 vs. the Nationals on Sunday at 10 a.m. PT on FS1, would be on short rest if the Dodgers wanted him to pitch Game 5, if necessary, on Thursday in Washington, which was the original plan. Because of Hill's history with finger blisters, Roberts said pitching Hill on short rest is illogical.

Roberts: Game 2 rainout 'prudent decision'

"With Rich, it's even more unlikely because of how we've handled the blister," Roberts said after the rainout. "We've been very cautious up to this point. To now, in this situation, get him on short rest, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 7 LAD 4, WAS 3 video
Gm 2 Oct. 9 WSH 5, LAD 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 WAS 8, LAD 3 video
Gm 4 Oct. 11 LAD 6, WAS 5 video
Gm 5 Oct. 13 LAD 4, WSH 3 video

Roberts said 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias would make the Game 4 start if Kershaw does not. Starting Urias in Game 4 would make Kershaw available for Game 5 on extra rest.

"There's no absolutes," Roberts said. "Obviously, in every series, things change. But right now, I don't see it. We're expecting Julio to make that start."

Kershaw struggled with command of his slider through five innings in Game 1 on Friday night, throwing 101 pitches but getting the win as the Dodgers held off Washington, 4-3.

Kershaw went through his regular next-day routine in the rain at Nationals Park, running in the outfield, playing a firm catch and generally showing no sign of the herniated disk that sidelined him for 2 1/2 months.

"Any time you have a chance to have him pitch, that's a good thing, and I don't think last night has any bearing on us going forward," Roberts said. "He says he felt great, and that's the main thing. But you can also see it when a player doesn't feel right physically, the look in the eye, the uncertainty. Right now, before he went on the DL you could see it wasn't right. But right now, he's fine."

Kershaw on his outing in Game 1

Roberts said he attributed Kershaw's struggles in Game 1 to being "amped up."

"The slider was at 91 [mph], that's a little hot for me," said Roberts. "I like it more 88 or 89. It's hard not to be amped up. I saw [94], [95], [96] with the fastball. Just with the slider, he couldn't get command of the slider and made mistakes out over the plate. Last night, his best pitch wasn't there."

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It took Sandy Koufax half a decade in the Major Leagues, and then the suggestion of catcher Norm Sherry, to stop trying to throw every fastball as hard as he could. Is there anybody who can tell Kershaw not to be so intense in October and live to see the results?

"That's a good thought," said Roberts. "That's what makes him great, what has made him great for a long period of time, and it's hard to tell a person who's wired a certain way, when it gets to the biggest stage, to taper down.

"But I think he's starting to see it more. Regardless of past postseasons, every time he takes the ball you still have a great feeling. I do think he's continuing to grow and understand. He's certainly open to a lot more things."

Roberts on Game 2 postponement

Kershaw has pitched on short rest in the postseason once in each of the last three years. In 2013, he allowed two unearned runs in six innings for a no-decision in the NLDS Game 4 clincher over Atlanta. In 2014, he allowed three runs in six innings when the Dodgers were eliminated by the Cardinals in Game 4. And in 2015, he allowed one run in seven innings for the win over the Mets in Game 4.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.