Behind the arm of reigning National League MVP and three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched the NL West division title for a third straight season.
Los Angeles eliminated the San Francisco Giants from postseason contention in the process, and recorded their first win at AT&T Park this season. In some sense winning the division took longer than expected, as the Dodgers lost eight of their last 10 games before clinching.
With five games remaining in the season, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has some leeway in choosing to rest players prior to postseason play beginning. While Kershaw is still scheduled for one more start in the season finale on Sunday, Mattingly isn’t sure if his ace will take the mound, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
We’ll talk about it,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said when asked if Kershaw will make one more start. “I’m sure he’ll want to pitch. But we’ll talk about it.”
The New York Mets currently hold a one-game lead for home-field advantage in the upcoming NLDS, which begins Oct. 9. Kershaw has pitched 229 innings on the season, which is the third-most in his career and 30.2 more than the 198.1 he threw in the regular season last year.
Despite the high amount of innings thrown, he has been able to keep his pitch count down as the 3,332 pitches he’s thrown this season is the third=lowest in the seven full seasons he’s spent in the Majors.
If Mattingly wants to look at previous seasons when deciding if Kershaw should make one more regular season start or not, in 2013 Kershaw’s first playoff start came on five days of rest and he threw seven innings while giving up one runs and striking out 12 in a victory over the Atlanta Braves.
In 2014 his first playoff start came on eight days of rest and he gave up eight earned runs in 6.2 innings in a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.