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Clayton Kershaw gets the ball for the Dodgers in NLDS Game 2

It’s Kershaw Day! The Dodger lefty takes the ball in Game 2.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After taking Game 1 behind a dominant performance from the Dodgers bullpen, Dave Roberts hands the ball to Clayton Kershaw with an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the NLDS.

Kershaw was in the conversation to start Game 1, as he has done for the Dodgers 11 times before, but Julio Urías received the nod. That being said, Kershaw’s numbers suggest that if he were to start the game, he earned it. In what was somewhat of a career resurgence, Kershaw posted a 2.28 ERA and 12-3 record in 126⅓ innings.

The Dodger lefty missed time due to back injuries in May and August, but when on the mound, he’s been the second-best arm in the Dodger rotation behind Urias.

Kershaw made two starts against San Diego this year, both before the All-Star break. His stat-lines in those starts:

  • April 25: 5 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 3 strikeouts
  • July 3: 7 innings. 4 hits, 0 runs, 8 strikeouts, 1 walk

Attempting to avoid a 2-0 series deficit, the Padres send Yu Darvish to the mound. Darvish started and won Game 1 of the wild card series against the Mets in New York.

Tonight will be Darvish’s first postseason appearance at Dodger Stadium since he started Game 7 for the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series. I don’t need to go much deeper, everyone knows how that one ended.

But this isn’t 2017, it’s 2022, and Darvish had one of the better second halves of all pitchers in baseball. In thirteen second half starts, Darvish had a 2.71 ERA and held hitters to a .199 batting average. In his start versus the Mets last Friday, the right hander got through seven innings, allowing only one run and striking out four.

The Dodgers bullpen was the key to winning Game 1, and barring a vintage Kershaw performance, will be big once again in Game 2. By bringing in Evan Phillips to face the heart of the San Diego lineup in the sixth inning, Roberts made his plan for the bullpen pretty clear. It’s not about what inning the game is in, it’s about the part of the lineup.

Because he threw 26 pitches last night, Roberts would probably love to stay away from Phillips if he can. With the depth of this bullpen, it shouldn’t be an issue. Roberts used Phillips, Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol and Chris Martin last night. Here’s who he didn’t use: Tommy Kahnle, Yency Almonte, Blake Treinen, Dustin May.

It is evident that the Dodger bullpen is the strongest and deepest that it has been at any point over the last five to ten years, and Roberts is going to lean on it heavily.

NLDS Game 2 info

  • Series: Dodgers lead, 1-0
  • Time: 5:37 p.m. PT
  • Starting pitchers: Clayton Kershaw vs. Yu Darvish
  • TV: FS1 (Adam Amin, AJ Pierzynski, Tom Verducci)
  • Radio: AM 570 locally (Charley Steiner, RIck Monday); ESPN Radio nationally (Jon Sciambi, Doug Glanville)