LOS ANGELES — Manager Dave Roberts said in no uncertain terms on Wednesday that Kenta Maeda would start for the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS regardless of the outcome of Game 4, rather than turning to Clayton Kershaw on three days rest.
“I have all the confidence in the world in Kenta that he’s going to give us a chance to win a baseball game tomorrow,” Roberts said on Wednesday before Game 3.
Asked if there were any circumstance at all that he would consider Kershaw to start Game 5, Roberts was firm.
Roberts famously said Kershaw would “absolutely not” be available to pitch in Game 5 of the NLDS, two days after pitching into the seventh inning, but then Kershaw found his way down to the bullpen and recorded the final two outs to eliminate the Nationals.
This time around, Roberts’ words carry a little more weight, because Kershaw a few minutes later was in the Dodgers bullpen throwing his between-starts bullpen session, getting ready for a potential Game 6 start on Saturday at Wrigley Field, if necessary.
Maeda has struggled so far in the playoffs, allowing seven runs in seven innings in his two starts. He put up a 3.48 ERA in 32 starts during the regular season, leading the team in starts, innings (176) and strikeouts (179).
“In terms of whether I feel satisfied at this point, no, because I haven’t been pitching well,” Maeda said, through interpreter Will Ireton. “So I’m looking forward to pitching well.
“It’s going to be an important game for the team, but it’s going to be an important game for myself, too.”
Maeda had a 3.22 ERA in 15 starts at Dodger Stadium through the regular season.