Kershaw and fellow left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu were both excellent in the first two games against Atlanta, with Ryu pitching seven scoreless frames on Thursday, and Kershaw following with eight more on Friday. The Dodgers became the first team in Division Series history to record shutouts in the first two games.
Ryu's Game 1 start marked the first time Kershaw wasn't on the hill to open a Dodgers postseason since 2009. The club chalked up that decision to the importance of giving Kershaw an extra day of rest between starts. He would've been pitching with four days of rest for Game 5 on Wednesday. Instead, it'll be six on Friday.
"It was pretty simple," Roberts said. "We had our reasons why we decided on Game 1 versus Game 2. But if there's a potential Game 5, we feel very confident that Clayton should be the guy taking the baseball."
Kershaw posted a 2.73 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 26 regular-season outings -- a stellar year for anyone else, but a down year for arguably the best pitcher of his generation. But if Los Angeles had any concerns about sending Kershaw to the mound for a decisive Game 5, he allayed those fears with his two-hit start on Friday night.
As for Ryu, the Dodgers could push his next start to Game 3 of the NLCS, the first at Dodger Stadium. Ryu owns a 1.02 ERA in 10 home starts this season, including the playoffs. The Dodgers also have Rich Hill and Walker Buehler as options to start Game 2 with normal rest.
Fix for Stripling? Ross Stripling, left off the NLDS roster after a disappointing September, believes he's been tipping his pitches and made an adjustment during a simulated game on Sunday.
Who pointed it out to Stripling?
"Everybody knows," he said. "Just look at the numbers after the first time through the order."
OK, here they are: Hitters facing Stripling for the first time in a game have a slash line of .225/.268/.367. The second time through, the slash line is .321/.349/.481.
Roberts said Stripling will be considered for the NLCS roster against Milwaukee.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.