Wood will get Game 4 start, if necessary, vs. D-backs
By Joshua Thornton
LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw won't have to worry about starting on short rest in the National League Division Series, presented by T-Mobile. If the Dodgers reach a potential Game 4, Alex Wood, not Kershaw, will start.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts lauded the accomplishments of Wood, who went from bullpen arm to an All-Star starter and became the first Dodgers pitcher to open the season 11-0. That body of work Wood gives Roberts the confidence to give Wood the ball in a possible Game 4. Kershaw will start Game 1 tonight at Dodger Stadium.
"Set in stone," Roberts said. "Clayton won't go on short rest. When you acquire a guy like Yu Darvish and you have Alex Wood have the season that he's had, that's why you do things like that."
The postseason is unpredictable, but pitching on short rest in October has become common for Kershaw. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner has started on short rest in each of the past four postseasons, including coming on in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2016 NLDS against the Nationals to register his first save in the Majors after a 110-pitch outing in Game 4 two days prior.
"Usually how that stuff happens is when Game 4 rolls around, things change," Kershaw said. "But it really sounds like that's not going to happen this year. But I'll worry about that when it happens. For now, I'm just going to try to get them out [in Game 1]."
This year is different, Roberts said, and Kershaw doesn't have to worry about starting on short rest in this round of the postseason.
"Last year was a different year," Roberts said. "And I can't speak to two years ago or years prior with Clayton, but we've assured him that he doesn't need to prepare for ... going on short rest."
The Dodgers considered using Wood out of the bullpen as a long reliever and having left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu in the postseason rotation, but Ryu's last two outings of the regular season didn't go well, having one start cut short due to a left forearm contusion and being tagged for five runs in two innings vs. the Rockies in his last start. Neither start factored into Ryu's standing on the postseason roster, Roberts said.
With his injury history, Ryu wasn't an option for a bullpen role, and he didn't feel comfortable working as a reliever. Ryu won't be on the NLDS roster, but he will be on the Dodgers' "taxi squad," where he'll stay ready if a starter goes down with an injury.
"He's going to stay hot, stay with the ballclub," Roberts said. "He's going to stay with us, travel with us, and continue to throw to hitters and throw in the 'pen."
• Roberts held a 10-minute team meeting on the Dodgers Stadium mound following Thursday's full-squad workout in preparation for tonight's opener of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile.
• The club must submit a 25-man roster for the series by 10 a.m. PT today. Roberts said earlier Thursday that Ryu would not be on that roster, and it's unlikely any of the others that pitched in the simulated game would be on it, either. After the sim game, Roberts held an on-field conversation with rookie Tim Locastro, who was under consideration for one of the final roster spots as a pinch-runner.
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.