The Dodgers' pitching rotation for the NLCS is beginning to take form and, while not yet announced, the starting four while likely include Hiroki Kuroda, who missed his final start of the regular season and the NLDS because of a small disk herniation in his cervical spine.
Kuroda threw a simulated game Tuesday at the club's spring training facility in Glendale, Arizona, under the watchful eye of manager Joe Torre, among others. He threw about 50 pitches over five innings, according to Torre. Kuroda also threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session, for a total of 75 pitches on the day. Torre wouldn't commit to naming his rotation, but he was gushing in his praise of Kuroda, calling his command today "surprisingly good." Torre noted that Kuroda's experience in big games worked to his favor:
The ability he had last year to pitch the way he did in the postseason, and even late in the season in important games, is certainly a factor.
If Kuroda joins the rotation, he would likely have to take the spot of Chad Billingsley or Vicente Padilla, as Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw seem pretty entrenched at the top of the rotation. Padilla, who pitched seven shutout innings in his postseason debut on Saturday, isn't going anywhere, according to GM Ned Colletti:
Padilla's going to be a starter in the LCS. When exactly, we're still sorting through, but his performance the other night was one of the best performances we've seen all year. He deserves the opportunity to keep starting, and he'll keep starting for us.
Torre said a decision won't be announced until Wednesday, after how Kuroda feels physically, and after Torre gets a chance to talk to the pitchers in question. NLCS rosters are due Thursday.