The Dodgers will start Walker Buehler in Game 1 of their wild card round series on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at Dodger Stadium, manager Dave Roberts announced on Sunday. Clayton Kershaw will start Game 2.
It’s the second Game 1 start for Buehler, who started the 2019 NLDS opener and also pitched the 163rd-game regular season tiebreaker in 2018. Kershaw has started 10 Games 1 in his career.
“We feel this puts us in the best spot, for those two games and also going forward,” Roberts said. “There’s not really a lot that needed to go into it. We talked about it, debated it, and feel really confident that both are great options.”
The Dodgers are locked in as the No. 1 seed in the National League, and will face the No. 8 seed in the best-of-3 wild card round, in which every game will be played at Dodger Stadium.
Starting Buehler before Kershaw keeps them in order, with both starting their playoff opener on five days rest. Buehler pitched four scoreless innings with six strikeouts on Thursday against the A’s, in his first game in 16 days after his second injured list stint of the season with a blister on his right index finger. Buehler finished with a 3.44 ERA and 42 strikeouts against 11 walks in 36⅔ innings this season, though started only four times in the final six weeks of the season because of the blister problems.
Kershaw finished his regular season with a 2.16 ERA in 10 starts, with 62 strikeouts and eight walks in 58⅓ innings. He posted the highest ground-ball rate of his career (53 percent), had his best strikeout rate (28.1 percent) since 2017 and his lowest walk rate (3.6 percent) since 2016.
Roberts on Friday said he didn’t think the distinction of pitching the first game was a big deal to either pitcher.
“I think that they have such a mutual respect for one another that they’re both pitching Game 1 or Game 2 so it really doesn’t matter,” Roberts said. “I think that that’s a credit.”
Roberts also said Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, and Julio Urías will be on the wild card round roster no matter their role. The Game 3 starter hasn’t yet been named.
There are a few more roster decisions to be made. Roberts said between 3-5 spots are undecided, and could depend on the opponent.