Blog Entry

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1

Posted on: October 14, 2009 7:23 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2009 7:36 pm

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are coming strong out of the gate with a left-hander against Philadelphia in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday, opting to hand the ball to rookie Clayton Kershaw, 21.

The decision not only emphasizes the Dodgers' growing confidence in Kershaw, who started Game 2 against St. Louis last round after defeating Colorado on the final Saturday of the season to clinch the NL West, but also allows them to position a lefty right away to face Philadelphia's big left-handed bats: Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. Kershaw was 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA against the Phillies in two 2009 regular-season starts.

The rotation also is notable on a couple of other levels, from going with the kid in Game 1 to starting August acquisition Vicente Padilla in Game 2 to leaving All-Star Chad Billingsley out completely. Hiroki Kuroda will start Game 3 and Randy Wolf Game 4.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel named lefty Cole Hamels as his Game 1 starter, as expected. Manuel declined to go beyond that until the Phillies finalize their roster, probably either later tonight or Thursday morning.

In last year's NLCS, which the Phillies won in five games, the Dodgers went with a three-man rotation and started all right-handers: Derek Lowe, Billingsley and Kuroda.

Padilla, who essentially was kicked off of the team in Texas this year after several run-ins with teammates and management, ascended to the Game 2 start based on his seven impressive innings against St. Louis last round, manager Joe Torre said.

Billingsley's absence is particularly noteworthy not only because he was an All-Star in July, but because he was the starting pitcher against Philadelphia last year in Game 2 when the Phillies' Brett Myers knocked Manny Ramirez off the plate and the Dodgers failed to respond.

Billingsley was the losing pitcher that day, and he lost more than the game. He also lost face in his own clubhouse as several Dodgers were angry that he did not respond and protect their best player. His fortitude has been questioned ever since and, though he seemed close to leaving that behind while pitching like an All-Star the first half of the season, those questions came back to dog him as he slumped down the stretch.

Kuroda, who wasn't even on the active roster last round because of a bulging disk in his neck, has been working at the Dodgers' facility in Arizona. Manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt journeyed there to watch him Tuesday and came away impressed enough to pick him to start Game 3.

"I wasn't hopeful that he would be ready for this round with the way things started with him," Torre said.

But the manager said he was "comfortable" watching Kuroda pitch Tuesday.

"He may not be as good as we want him to be, but still, off of what he did for us last year, it's something that we felt we wanted to give a shot to," Torre said of Kuroda, who won two postseason games for the Dodgers last year, holding the Cubs and Phillies to a combined two runs in 12 1/3 innings in the process.

Meantime, Wolf, a second lefty in the starting quartet, is bumped down to Game 4 after pitching Game 1 against St. Louis.

While he seemed disappointed, Wolf chose not to complain.

"I feel like I have an opportunity in Game 4 to help the team win," he said.



Since: Oct 7, 2006
Posted on: October 15, 2009 9:52 pm

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1

What was that you all were saying about Kershaw?

Since: Oct 7, 2006
Posted on: October 15, 2009 1:37 pm

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1

Thank for my back RedTickBeer.  My point was that Sweety comes in with nonsense about the Dodgers pounding the Phils and it won't even be a good series because of that scary pitching staff. Your staff is nice and certainly a main reason you have had success so far, but hardly striking the fear of God into anyone and they are beatable. Don't be so sure and arrogant that that staff of rookies and journeymen is going to come in and dominate the veteran Philly lineup. As a fan you should root for that to happen, but the reality is it probably won't happen and you will have an awful lot of egg on your face. I'm just trying to help you to not embarrass yourself.

Since: Oct 15, 2009
Posted on: October 15, 2009 12:22 pm

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1

By your logic Hamels should pitch a complete game no hitter given the following trends:

5/14 7.0 IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1W, 9SO at Philly
6/4 9.0 IP, 5H, 0R, 0ER, 0W, 5SO at LA

7 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and 14 strike outs in two outings.

Obviously the Dodgers should see the trend. Hamel's the one adjusting to the hitters, not the hitters adjusting to him.

Please try to make some sense next time.

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: October 15, 2009 11:24 am

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1


The Phillies handled Kershaw just fine?

The Philles got only 2 runs against him last time out. 2 runs in 5 1/3 innings isn't exactly handling him just fine. Hell even when Kershaw was still finding himself the Philles could only manage 4 runs against him.

5/12 Kershaw [5.0 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 4 er, 4 walks and 5 strikeouts] at Philly
6/04 Kershaw [5.1 IP. 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 er, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts] at LA

Wow 8 hits in 2 games with 10 strikeouts. The only reason the Phillies did anything is because of the walks and that isn't the Phillies doing in any form, it's cause Kershaw still has control issues.

Phillies should see the trend. Kershaw is the one adjusting to the hitters, not the hitters adjusting to him.

Since: Aug 26, 2008
Posted on: October 15, 2009 8:27 am

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1

Compared to Torre's other choices, Kershaw is the best choice for game 1. He can dominate and has the most upside of all the Dodgers pitchers. The issue is that he throws too many pitches and is on a pitch count - 6 innings max. This means 3 or 4 relief pitchers giving the Phillies a chance to find the one having a bad day. The real key to this game\series is Hamels. If he returns to form ( complete game shutout in LA earlier this year ) the Phillies will win in 5.

Since: Oct 7, 2006
Posted on: October 15, 2009 12:14 am

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1

You are kidding, right big sweety? The Phils have handle Kershaw just fine in the past, Kuroda is taking the mound with a bulging disc in his neck, and Padilla is a classic headcase just waiting to implode. All three are capable of bringing it, but to suggest these guys are money in the bank, especially against a potent Phils offense, just shows a lack of understanding of the game, or just plain irrational thinking. And what makes you think hamels, Happ, Martinez and Lee won't prove to be absolutely devastating against your semi-lame line up. Should be a good and inteesting series, but if you want to take the defending champs for granted, be my guest.

Since: Sep 29, 2009
Posted on: October 14, 2009 11:29 pm

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1

I think you are dreaming. Kershaw will shut the Phils out for 6 innings, and then you get the trio of top relievers. It won't even be a good series for Philly--I see Kershaw, Padilla and Kuroda taking all three...mark my words!

Since: Dec 18, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2009 9:04 pm

Dodgers choose Kershaw for Game 1

A lefthander or a right-hander against thehillies doesn't matter much.  Raul Ibanez batted significantly better against lefthanded pitchers this year.  Also, Utley's average was also better.  Ryan Howard numbers have a huge decline but thats the only advantage for opponents starting leftys against the Phils.

I think the Dodgers made the right decision starting Kershaw game 1.  He is a good young pitcher but hopefully the Phils can get to him early and use his lack of post season experience to their advantage.  It should be a good series.

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