The Dodgers will start Clayton Kershaw on three days rest for the first time in five seasons on Saturday, and will have Trevor Bauer starting on regular rest in Sunday’s series finale against the Angels.
“Just feeling he can get back out there on short rest because he didn’t exert too much, as far as a large sample in that start,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He feels good about it, and we feel good about it.”
Saturday’s start follows what was the shortest start of Kershaw’s career in the first game Tuesday’s doubleheader in Chicago, when he was lifted after throwing 39 pitches and allowing four runs in one inning against the Cubs. Roberts said his long conversation with Kershaw in the top of the second inning on Tuesday was not about pitching on Saturday, and said that discussion started later that night.
“I’ll be ready to go whenever they ask me to,” Kershaw said after his Tuesday start.
Roberts said Bauer, who has stated his preference for starting on three days rest whenever possible, was also considered to start Saturday, but after his labor-intensive 90 pitches in 4⅓ innings, the club turned instead to Kershaw.
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The Dodgers haven’t started Kershaw on three days rest since 2016, and he’s never done it in the regular season. He made four starts in the Division Series on three days rest — one each year from 2013 to 2016 — posting a 3.16 ERA with 34 strikeouts and six walks in 23⅔ innings. The team won three of four games.
Kershaw also made two other postseason starts on short rest, pitching three days after a relief appearance to close out the previous series in 2016 and 2018, though both relief outings could be considered what would normally be a bullpen day. His previous starts in those cases — which came five and six days prior, respectively — came with mixed results, pitching seven scoreless innings in a win at Wrigley Field in Game 2 of the 2016 NLCS, and allowing five runs in four innings in a loss at Fenway Park in Game 1 of the World Series.
Using Kershaw on three days rest this weekend allows the Dodgers to delay their need to replace Dustin May’s spot in the rotation. Tony Gonsolin is rehabbing shoulder inflammation in Arizona, and will build up to at least four innings and 60 pitches in rehab starts at a minor league affiliate before getting activated, which could basically be the last week of May.
With off days coming next Monday and Thursday, the Dodgers could delay their use of a bullpen game as the fifth starter as late as May 18, while still keeping the four starters in the rotation on at least four days rest.
No pepper games
There aren’t too many notable updates on the various Dodgers on the injured list, at least nothing that would materially affect the return timetables. Cody Bellinger is running at 60 percent in outfield drills, for instance.
But perhaps the most notable news was about Zach McKinstry and his strained right oblique.
“The latest is he was able to sneeze and not feel anything,” Roberts said. “When you’re talking about the oblique, that’s a big deal.”
An old friend is in the Halos lineup in the series opener, with the Angels acquiring catcher Drew Butera from the Rangers for cash considerations. Butera, who was the Dodgers’ backup catcher in 2014 and was traded to the Angels that December, was a non-roster invitee this spring with Texas, and played the last five years with the Royals and Rockies.
Butera is in the lineup, batting ninth, his 12th straight season starting at least once behind the plate. To make roster room for the 37-year-old Butera, the Angels designated catcher Jack Kruger for assignment.