PHOENIX -- With the Dodgers two wins over the Diamondbacks away from clinching the National League West, one might have envisioned a scenario of Zack Greinke winning Tuesday followed by ace Clayton Kershaw winning Wednesday to wrap up the division. But that won't happen, as Kershaw will be pushed back to Saturday in effort to give the left-hander extra rest, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
Kershaw leads the major leagues in ERA (1.94), ERA+ (184), WHIP (0.928) and innings pitched (223). Kershaw also leads the NL in strikeouts (214) and MLB in innings per start (7.19), the latter the highest by a Dodger since Kevin Brown in 1999 (7.21).
As Gurnick reported, Kershaw threw a bullpen session Monday instead of his scheduled one Sunday, and will likely throw another bullpen session on Wednesday. His next start will be Saturday in San Diego against the Padres.
Stephen Fife will make a spot start against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday in place of Kershaw, his first start since rejoining the team on Sept. 1. After coming back from right shoulder bursitis Fife made one spot start in a similar situation on Aug. 4 at Wrigley Field, and beat the Cubs by pitching scoreless baseball into the sixth inning. But after a bizarre temporary switch to the bullpen in Triple-A he struggled mightily.
Fife had a 10.29 ERA with 16 walks and just six strikeouts in 14 innings over his last five appearances with the Isotopes, and in two long relief outings in September with the Dodgers has allowed seven runs and 10 hits in seven innings, with three walks and three strikeouts.
Before Monday's game manager Don Mattingly said he wouldn't necessarily wait to use Fife until the team had clinched the division, saying the health of his team was a higher priority than pushing everyone in an effort to lower their magic number from four to zero.
"We still want to protect our guys, that's the biggest thing we have to do," Mattingly said.