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LA sticks to plan: Buehler in G1, Kershaw G2

@kengurnick
October 10, 2020

It’s not broken, so Dave Roberts isn’t fixing it, announcing on Saturday that Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw will start Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series for the Dodgers on Monday and Tuesday against the Braves at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

It’s not broken, so Dave Roberts isn’t fixing it, announcing on Saturday that Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw will start Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series for the Dodgers on Monday and Tuesday against the Braves at Globe Life Field in Arlington.

That’s the same order the Dodgers used in sweeping the Brewers and Padres in the first two rounds, even though Buehler has been limited to four innings in each of those starts with a right index finger blister.

Buehler held Milwaukee and San Diego to two runs and one run, respectively. Kershaw won both of his starts, dominating the Brewers with eight scoreless innings and 13 strikeouts in the clinching game of the Wild Card Series before beating the Padres with six innings of three-run ball on Wednesday.

The Dodgers have Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Julio Urías to pitch most of the innings in Games 3, 4 and 5, although Roberts wouldn’t announce those assignments, referring to his catch-all phrase of “optionality.” There will be no days off during the series.

Roberts said Urías would pitch “meaningful innings,” as he did with multiple-inning relief appearances that resulted in victories in both rounds. He contributed three innings in Buehler’s start against the Brewers and five innings in Thursday night’s clincher that May opened with a scoreless inning.

Roberts also said using the 23-year-old May, normally a starter, as a one-inning opener in the Game 3 clincher against the Padres kept him available if needed for multiple innings in a potential Game 5.

“There’s a balance between running a guy out there to get outs but also taking care of him,” Roberts said. “You’re trying to maximize your arms and matchups and potentially to get 27 outs. However we decide to do that, another team decides to do that, there’s a lot that goes into it. When you’re talking about the options we have, they’re all pretty dang good.”

Should the series go the distance, Kershaw would be lined up to start Game 7 on regular rest and Roberts indicated that last year’s decision to use him in relief (that couldn’t have turned out worse) is not currently being considered.

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 12 ATL 5, LAD 1 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 13 ATL 8, LAD 7 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 14 LAD 15, ATL 3 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 15 ATL 10, LAD 2 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 16 LAD 7, ATL 3 Watch
Gm 6 Oct. 17 LAD 3, ATL 1 Watch
Gm 7 Oct. 18 LAD 4, ATL 3 Watch

Roberts said the club would hold a simulated game for four or five innings Saturday, with Gonsolin pitching. He hasn’t been used in either postseason series, last pitching in a game Sept. 26, allowing four runs in six innings.

Bellinger looks to heat up at right time

Extra bases

• Roberts said one roster decision the club faces is infielder Edwin Ríos, who was left off the NLDS roster after suffering a groin strain in a workout. Roberts said Ríos has improved enough to take swing and run at 75 percent. Roberts said the bullpen might be tweaked to provide for better matchups.

• Roberts, on Globe Life Field: "It's actually starting to feel like home, which is sort of crazy."

• The Dodgers will host drive-in viewing parties for the NLCS. Admission is $75 per car and must be purchased in advance, with no on-site sales available. Viewing will take place on 60-foot screens in Dodger Stadium Parking Lots 2/3, with audio broadcast through an FM transmitter (radio). Concessions will not be available, and fans are encouraged to bring their own food and beverages, though alcohol is strictly prohibited.

The drive-in will be operated in accordance with LA County's Reopening Protocol for Drive-In Movie Theaters. No outdoor seating is permitted, as fans can enjoy the game from the comfort and safety of their vehicles. Social distancing and mandatory face coverings will be enforced should fans need to access restrooms, which will be sanitized regularly. Dodger Stadium will not be accessible. A full list of safety measures and security protocols can be found at Dodgers.com/DriveIn.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.