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Clayton Kershaw could make unprecedented start in Dodgers morning finale vs. Braves

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I have been waiting for the right moment to use this photo, and a 9:10 a.m. PT start seems appropriate.
I have been waiting for the right moment to use this photo, and a 9:10 a.m. PT start seems appropriate.
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers look to win their fourth of five series so far in 2016 in their finale with the Braves, and turn to ace Clayton Kershaw on Thursday morning at Turner Field in Atlanta.

I had grand designs on coming up with some split stat that would fall in Kershaw's favor during day games. After all, his ERA in 72 career day games is 2.52, which is excellent by any measure. But his overall ERA is 2.42, so if anything Kershaw is ever so slightly worse under the sun.

Even looking at since the start of 2012, Kershaw's ERA in day games is 2.18, but his overall ERA is 2.06 during that span, so the Dodgers will somehow have to make do.

But Kershaw can still do something on Thursday that surpasses even his own ridiculous standard of excellence.

Kershaw to date has 22 innings in his first three starts, and has lasted at least seven innings in each of his first three starts of the season. The only other time Kershaw did that was in 2013, but he has never started a season with four starts of at least seven innings.

April historically has relatively been Kershaw's worst month, with a 3.02 ERA in 35 starts, averaging a mere 6.30 innings per start, compared to a 2.33 ERA and 6.71 innings per start in all other months.

Kershaw has the power in his hands this Thursday morning in Atlanta to erase the stain of having a monthly ERA that begins with a three by either allowing no runs in at least two innings against the Braves, allowing one run in at least five innings, or allowing two earned runs in at least eight innings.

Getaway day

With a day game after a night game there are several off days built into Thursday's Dodgers lineup, with Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Howie Kendrick sitting. But one who isn't sitting is Chase Utley, starting again at second base and batting leadoff.

Utley scored the winning run on Wednesday night, and left his imprint all over that game, at the plate, on the bases and in the field, most notably with a glove flip to first base from a seemingly impossible distance.

Utley was 2-for-5 with a stolen base on Wednesday, and has been a pleasant surprise in the early going in 2016. Utley, 37, is hitting .306/.370/.408, and Thursday marks his 12th start in 16 games at second base.

With 94 career hits at Turner Field, Utley ranks second among opponents in the ballpark's history to former teammate Jimmy Rollins.

Game info

Time: 9:10 a.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network