LOS ANGELES — Both teams finally announced a starting pitcher for Game 4 of their National League Division Series on Thursday.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts opted to bring back ace Clayton Kershaw on three days' rest, while the Washington Nationals chose right-hander Joe Ross when the series resumes Tuesday at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers, who are in a must-win situation and trail the Nationals 2-1 in the best-of-five series, went with Kershaw on short rest despite the back issues that caused him to miss more than two months of the season.
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“His back is not an issue,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers mulled whether to give the ball to rookie left-hander Julio Urias, who was originally penciled in to start Game 4. That changed when the Dodgers lost 8-3 in Game 3 on Monday.
Urias, who finished 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA, has been one of the Dodgers' best pitchers in the second half of the season. Urias won four straight starts in August and had a 1.99 ERA during the month. Although he didn't register a win in September, primarily because the Dodgers limited his innings, Urias had a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings.
“Well, in an elimination game, we still have to win two games,” Roberts said. “So the thought of having Julio pitch at home versus the road is something we're thinking through, and what gives us the best chance to win two games.”
Baker chose Ross over Reynaldo Lopez.
Neither team announced their starter on Monday and Baker insisted it wasn't intentional.
“We're not playing gamesmanship or whatever you call it,” Baker said. “No, I mean, we just haven't decided. If we had decided, it doesn't really make any difference. You've got to tell them at some time sooner or later, and so no, we haven't decided yet.”
Ross, who finished the regular season with a 7-5 record and a 3.43 ERA in 19 starts, hasn't pitched since Sept. 29 when he got a no-decision against the Arizona Diamondbacks. A shoulder injury, which forced Ross to miss more than two months, limited him to three starts in the final month of the regular season.
Ross posted a 2.79 ERA in those three September outings, but he never worked more than four innings in either start.
Lopez compiled a 5-3 mark with a 4.91 ERA in 11 games (six starts). Lopez hasn't started a game since Sept. 4 when he surrendered three runs and six hits in a loss to the New York Mets.
Since then, Lopez has been used primarily out of the bullpen, sometimes as a long reliever.