Don Mattingly looks at 'present tense' with Clayton Kershaw to open playoffs

ByMark Saxon ESPN logo
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

LOS ANGELES -- The first three pitching matchups for the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets are set.

The Dodgers announced their rotation Tuesday, hours after a team workout and days after the Mets announced theirs. There were no surprises. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton KershawandJacob deGrom will pitch Game 1, Zack Greinke and Noah Syndergaard will pitch Saturday's Game 2, and Brett Anderson andMatt Harvey will pitch Monday's Game 3. The first two games are at Dodger Stadium before the series shifts to New York's Citi Field for Games 3 and, potentially, 4.

Kershaw (16-7, 2.13 ERA) threw a bullpen session Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, two days after his Sunday start, his customary day to throw between starts. Anderson, who last worked Thursday, threw a simulated game Tuesday and will be on 11 days' rest when he faces the Mets.

One storyline entering Friday's game will be Kershaw's spotty resume in the postseason. The major-league ERA leader four straight seasons before Greinke unseated him in 2015, Kershaw nonetheless led the majors with 301 strikeouts. He has a 5.12 ERA in 11 postseason games and was the losing pitcher in each of the Dodgers' past two season-ending losses, both in St. Louis.

"I look at this year in the present tense," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "There are probably only a few people in the world who could talk about Kershaw. If you don't talk to Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson or somebody like that, there's really nobody else who's on his level. I don't need to defend him. This year is this year. We'll see what happens."

The Mets have said they will use rookie left-hander Steven Matz in Game 4 if the series gets that far and if Matz is healthy enough to pitch. According to's Adam Rubin, Matz threw a successful bullpen session Tuesday and had no issues with the back spasms that had been bothering him.

The Dodgers have not committed to a Game 4 starter, but the debate is between using Kershaw on three days' rest and going with young lefty Alex Wood. Under a new front office led by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers are probably less likely to use Kershaw on short rest than the previous regime of Ned Colletti. Kershaw has done it twice in the postseason, with the Dodgers winning one of those starts, in Game 3 of the NLDS versus the Atlanta Braves, and losing the other in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS versus the St. Louis Cardinals. Kershaw worked 12 innings combined in those starts with a 2.25 ERA.

"I think it at least presents the option," Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said Tuesday. "At the appropriate time, I'm sure we'll have more conversations about that."