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Walker Buehler gets nod to start in Game 1 for Dodgers vs. Brewers

Los Angeles Dodgers starter Walker Buehler throws to an Oakland Athletics batter.
Dodgers starter Walker Buehler throws to an Oakland Athletics batter during the first inning on Thursday at Dodger Stadium.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Clayton Kershaw has been one of the best pitchers in the major leagues in 2020, unearthing previously lost velocity and sharpening his stuff to post a 2.16 ERA in 10 starts, while Walker Buehler got off to a slow start before a blister landed him on the injured list twice.

But Buehler, not Kershaw, will start Game 1 of the wild-card round against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, manager Dave Roberts announced Sunday morning before a 5-0 win over the Angels.

“There was a lot that went into it but we just feel that puts us in the best spot in those two games and also going forward,” Roberts said. “It could’ve been interchanged. Honestly, it’s one and the same to be quite honest.”

The Dodgers finish the regular season with the best record in MLB with a 5-0 win over the Angels. Walker Buehler named starter for Game 1 of wild-card round.

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Roberts declined to review the reasons for the decision. But blisters for pitchers are unpredictable — see Rich Hill — and Buehler’s problem was undoubtedly a factor.

Starting Buehler in Game 1 ensures that a fresh bullpen will be available should he exit early. The team is more confident that Kershaw will supply a long start — six or seven innings — and can more confidently rely on him to take down most of a game. This order theoretically gives most of the bullpen a breather Thursday before a possible do-or-die Game 3 on Friday.

Buehler reported to summer camp behind the other starters and struggled early. He didn’t complete six innings until his fifth start against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 21 when his blister surfaced. He has since been on the injured list twice and started three times. He returned from the injured list to log four scoreless innings in his final playoff tune-up Thursday against the Oakland Athletics.


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