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Inside the Dodgers’ decision to start Clayton Kershaw in Game 4

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‘All hands on deck’ available in bullpen

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers’ decision to start Clayton Kershaw on short rest over a fully rested Julio Urias in Game 4 of the NLDS was a rational choice made by logical and thoughtful decision makers. But ultimately, while amid the trees sometimes it is hard to see the forest, where with a broader view the decision becomes even more obvious, especially for those involved.

"You don't want a team to go down without their best pitcher pitching,” first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. “If we end up losing and Kershaw didn’t pitch, the question is always going to be, why didn’t he pitch Game 4?

“For us, I think we win today and then we like our chances with Julio, or whoever it is, on Thursday.”

The Dodgers do need two wins to advance, and while the prospect of having a rested Kershaw in Game 5 after Urias at home in Game 4 is enticing, ultimately the heavy bullpen use of the last two days — 12 appearances, 9⅔ innings — was a contributing factor.

“Game 5 is just about shortening the game, finding in our opinion the best matchups and giving us a chance to win,” manager Dave Roberts said. “To have the guys that we have at our disposal available and rested for Game 5 puts us in a good spot. That’s why, again, we really like Clayton going today.”

The Dodgers, if they win Game 4, will have an off day Wednesday (they will have an off day if they lose too, just not the same kind), and will have both Rich Hill and Urias available.

That is, unless Urias is used in Game 4 in relief. Roberts said he would be available out of the bullpen today. Urias pitched 14 innings in September and last pitched on Sept. 29. His last appearance lasting even four innings was Sept. 2, when he started and pitched 5⅓ frames.

But for Tuesday, with the heavy bullpen usage of the previous two days, the Dodgers chose Kershaw, who was cleared by the training staff to start on three days rest.

“It’s a game we need to win where, one, Clayton gives us the best chance to win, and two, he gives us the best chance to go deeper into the game,” Roberts said.