Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw will start NLCS Game 4 against Braves
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, scratched from his scheduled Game 2 start because of back spasms, will start Game 4 against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, manager Dave Roberts announced after Game 3 Wednesday night.
Kershaw’s back issue flared up after Saturday’s bullpen workout and forced the Dodgers to start Tony Gonsolin in Game 2—an 8-7 loss to the Braves—on Tuesday. Kershaw had “a pretty aggressive” bullpen workout before Tuesday’s game in Globe Life Field and received treatment Wednesday.
“He was letting [the ball] go, and he came out of it great,” Roberts said before Game 3. “Every day it’s been better. … I talked to him briefly [Wednesday]. He’s in a good head space. I just know that we’re in a better place than we were [on Tuesday]. What that means, I don’t know quite yet.”
Kershaw threw eight shutout innings, allowing three hits, striking out 13 and walking one, in a 3-0 win over Milwaukee in Game 2 of the wild-card series on Oct. 1. He allowed three runs and six hits, struck out six and walked none in six innings of a 6-5 win over San Diego in Game 2 of the division series on Oct. 7.
The Dodgers use a record, 11-run first-inning scoring frenzy to rout the Atlanta Braves 15-3 in Game 3 of the NLCS.
Roberts said he does not expect Kershaw’s start to be shortened in any way.
“My expectation is that he’s going to go out there and make a start and help us win a ballgame,” Roberts said.
Kershaw’s return will allow the Dodgers to start Dustin May in Game 5 and Walker Buehler in Game 6 if necessary. If the series goes seven games, Tony Gonsolin would be available to start the finale on regular rest.
Bryse Wilson will start Game 4 for Atlanta, marking the sixth time in nine games the Braves will start a rookie pitcher this postseason. The 22-year-old right-hander spent most of 2020 at the team’s alternate training site. He went 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA in six big league games, two of them starts.
Asked whether he could have imagined over the summer that he’d be starting Game 4 of the NLCS, Wilson said, “Uh … no, not in a million years. Obviously, this is a goal of mine. For it to actually be coming true. I’m just super thankful.”
Wilson, a Hillsborough, N.C., native who was a fourth-round pick out of high school in 2016, mixes a two-seam sinking fastball that averages 94 mph with a slider (88.8 mph), changeup (87.1 mph) and an occasional curve (78.8 mph).
The Dodgers tore up the MLB record book with their 11-run first inning and 15-0 start in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.
“I really liked what I saw his last few starts,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s starting to take a step forward and figure things out. I liked how he attacked guys and used his fastball.”
Wilson threw a six-inning, 88-pitch simulated game last Friday after Atlanta’s division series sweep of Miami, so he’s “ready to go as long as the team needs me to,” he said. Wilson will be the third straight rookie to start in the NLCS, following Ian Anderson in Game 2 and Kyle Wright in Game 3.
“You watch video and you just have to kind of go as the game goes,” Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts said. “You’ve never faced them, so there’s no way to calibrate how it comes out of his hand and what his pitches look like. But it is what it is. It’s new for him. It’s new for us.”
Seager, Trout named Hank Aaron Award finalists
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager and Angels center fielder Mike Trout on Wednesday were named two of 14 finalists for the Hank Aaron Award, which is given each year to the best offensive player in each league.
Seager led the Dodgers in RBIs (41), tied for the team lead in average (.307) and was second on the team in OPS (.943). The performance was one of the best of his career. But it remains to be seen if he did enough to rival National League batting champion Juan Soto, who hit .351 with an MLB-best 1.185 OPS.
Trout won the Hank Aaron Award in 2019, a few weeks before being named American League MVP for the third time. A repeat in 2020 might be difficult. He batted .281 with a .993 OPS. He didn’t lead the American League in any notable offensive categories — though he did finish tied for third in home runs with 17.
Fans will decide the fates of Trout and Seager. Ballots for the award can be cast online at MLB.com/hankaaronaward.
Trout was also nominated by his peers for the outstanding player award in the AL. Betts received the same honor in the National League. Freddie Freeman, Juan Soto, José Abreu and DJ LeMahieu are the other finalists. Winners in each category of the Players Choice Awards will choose charities that will receive donations from the Players Trust.
Staff writer Maria Torres contributed to this report.
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