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    Dodgers’ Dave Roberts stands behind Clayton Kershaw despite Game 1 debacle
    • October 8, 2023

    LOS ANGELES – The day after the worst start of Clayton Kershaw’s career, his manager was unequivocal in saying the veteran left-hander will start again if their National League Division Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks reaches a Game 4.

    “For me, that’s the best option, and I see it as the only option,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before an optional workout Sunday attended by nearly the entire team – including Kershaw who went through his normal post-start workout on the field.

    Calling Kershaw the only option for a Game 4 start seems hyperbolic.

    The Dodgers will start rookie right-hander Bobby Miller in Game 2, leaving veteran Lance Lynn and another rookie Ryan Pepiot available for Games 3 and 4. But the Dodgers have not announced a starter for Game 3 and would probably prefer to pair Lynn and Pepiot together in that game.

    “I’m going to manage Game 2 like it’s Game 7. And I’m going to do the same thing for Game 3,” Roberts said. “Could things change? Possibly, yeah. But I’ve still got all the confidence in our guys preventing runs and using them in the right way and the best possible way to win baseball games.

    “But, yeah, I think the fallout is Clayton is going to start Game 4”

    Asked if that was something that would be re-assessed as the series goes on, Roberts said, “I don’t think so.”

    “For me, there’s certain people that get you here that have to get you across the finish line, and this is his role on our ballclub,” Roberts said.

    “What I do know is for us to accomplish what we want to this year, we’re going to need Clayton Kershaw to start baseball games. And I’ve got all the confidence in the world that he can do that and he’s going to be just fine.”

    Kershaw faced just eight hitters in Game 1 and retired only one. Seven of the eight hitters put balls in play with exit velocities of at least 98 mph and an average of 105.2 mph.

    His velocity was actually up from the 88.7 mph his fastball averaged over his final three starts of the regular season – he averaged 90.4 mph on the 17 fastballs he threw before exiting Saturday night. And Dodgers catcher Will Smith said Kershaw’s pitch mix “looked like his normal stuff that it’s been all year.”

    “You look at Clayton Kershaw, he’s arguably one of the best pitchers ever,” Smith said. “But he’s human. He makes mistakes. So I expect him to come back in a few days ready to go.”

    Kershaw’s unspecified shoulder injury landed him on the Injured List for six weeks at mid-season and limited him after he returned. If he does start in Game 4 on Thursday in Arizona, it will be his first start on only four days’ rest since May 21.

    But Kershaw insisted there was “nothing health-related here” that led to his Game 1 performance. Roberts has said he believes Kershaw is in “as good a place” as he’s been since returning from the IL in early August.

    “I really don’t believe it’s health. I don’t,” Roberts said again Sunday. “I think sometimes – as Clayton did yesterday – you’ve just got to take your medicine and say I wasn’t good enough in that particular outing.

    “If you look at the stuff, everything was actually a tick up from what it’s been. So the recovery, the stuff in-game doesn’t speak to anything with the arm. So for me, it was one of those days that you tip your hat to those guys. And they executed a game plan and we’ve got to learn from it and get better. But it’s nothing to do with the injury to the shoulder, nothing.

    “I still stand by the fact that he’s healthy. The stuff played up and now we’ve just got to make better pitches.”

    The Dodgers will ask Miller to help them get to the series to a fourth game. The 24-year-old rookie faced the Diamondbacks twice in August, once in Arizona and once at Dodger Stadium. He pitched six scoreless innings at Chase Field then gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings at home.

    “He’s ready,” Freddie Freeman said of Miller. “Just from the first start he made this year to where he’s at now, the mound poise, the way he’s commanding the baseball, how he’s attacking hitters – we feel pretty good with him.”


    NLDS Game 2 – Diamondbacks (RHP Zac Gallen, 17-9, 3.47 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Bobby Miller, 11-4, 3.76 ERA), Monday, 6:07 p.m., TBS, 570 AM

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    ​ Orange County Register