Beyond Kershaw, Roberts mulling NLCS rotation

Dodgers set for a rematch with the Cubs in Game 1

Beyond Kershaw, Roberts mulling NLCS rotation

LOS ANGELES -- Other than Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on Wednesday was not ready to "set in stone" the rest of his rotation for the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World that starts on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

NLCS Game 1: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on TBS

"We know who our Game 1 starter is. That's about it," said Roberts, who followed Kershaw with Rich Hill and Yu Darvish in the three-game sweep of the D-backs in the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile, with Alex Wood the Game 4 probable had that game been needed.

Dress for NLCS: Get Dodgers' postseason gear

Game Date Time Matchup/Results TV/Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 14   LAD 5, CHC 2 WATCH
Gm 2 Oct. 15   LAD 4, CHC 1 WATCH
Gm 3 Oct. 17   LAD 6, CHC 1 WATCH
Gm 4 Oct. 18 9 p.m. LAD @ CHC TBS
*Gm 5 Oct. 19 8 p.m. LAD @ CHC TBS
*Gm 6 Oct. 21 4 or 8 p.m. CHC @ LAD TBS
*Gm 7 Oct. 22 7:30 p.m. CHC @ LAD TBS

Roberts did indicate that left-handed reliever Luis Avilan would be activated for the series as long as a simulated game late Wednesday went well. Avilan was scratched from the NLDS because of left shoulder inflammation.

Dodgers grateful for ability to set NLCS rotation

Roberts said another roster change was possible before Saturday depending on who the Dodgers were set to face. They'll get a rematch of the 2017 NLCS against the Cubs. The Dodgers were 4-2 against the Cubs this year, and Roberts said the Cubs have more left-handed batters, which could influence the bullpen makeup.

Avilan would be a third lefty in the bullpen, joining non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisitions Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani. The latter had two scoreless appearances against Arizona, while Watson allowed two runs in two appearances. Relievers Pedro Baez and Ross Stripling did not appear in the NLDS after making the roster despite September slumps.

The Dodgers had an eight-man bullpen for the D-backs, but Roberts didn't rule out Avilan replacing a position player, which would give them a nine-man 'pen. If that were the case, it would probably be rookie third-string catcher Kyle Farmer, but that would prevent Roberts from using his second catcher for pinch-hitting.

Roberts on pitching rotation

The bullpen has taken a dramatic new shape in recent weeks, as Brandon Morrow has replaced Baez at setup and starter Kenta Maeda has become a middle-innings weapon.

Because of the acquisition of Darvish and his winning outing in Game 3 of the NLDS, the Dodgers are insisting they won't start Kershaw on short rest. But Roberts again hinted that his ace might be on a shorter leash than in past postseasons. Kershaw has a career ERA of 21.86 in the seventh inning of postseason games.

"That certainly has to be a variable in the sense that it, to discount it entirely, I don't like to do with information," said Roberts. "More importantly is just watching the game and how Clayton is throwing the baseball on a particular night. No one wants it more than he does and no one will compete more, but to have the guys in the 'pen I feel very confident in going to lends itself to not pushing him as well."

The Dodgers carried pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu on their taxi squad and sent Walker Buehler, Wilmer Font, Edward Paredes and Brock Stewart to a "stay-hot" camp in Arizona. Position players Charlie Culberson and Joc Pederson were on the taxi squad and Tim Locastro, Rob Segedin, Trayce Thompson and Alex Verdugo went to "stay-hot" camp.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.