To keep the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs, Clayton Kershaw might have to end his postseason skid — on short rest.
With only three days between outings, Kershaw is scheduled to start Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the New York Mets. The reigning NL MVP and three-time Cy Young Award winner was chosen Monday over fellow left-hander Alex Wood before Los Angeles lost 13-7 to fall behind 2-1 in the best-of-five series.
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"Do you have to explain that one? He’s pretty good," manager Don Mattingly said about Kershaw. "We feel like he’s the right guy."
Game 4 is Tuesday night in New York. Rookie left-hander Steven Matz is lined up to pitch for the Mets.
Kershaw started the series opener last Friday and threw 113 pitches in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out 11 but gave up a home run to Daniel Murphy and was beaten 3-1 by Jacob deGrom.
Kershaw matched a season high with four walks and was charged with three runs and four hits. He fell to 1-6 with a 4.99 ERA in 12 career postseason games, including nine starts, with his fifth straight playoff defeat.
During that postseason losing streak, the longest in Dodgers history, he has received only eight runs of support in 29 1-3 innings.
"I appreciate the confidence that Donnie has, the confidence in me to do it," Kershaw said. "It’s a good feeling to know your manager wants you out there. Makes you want to prove him right, for sure."
Kershaw pitched well in the playoffs on three days’ rest the past two years, going 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts. He struck out 15 and walked three in 12 innings, holding opponents to a .159 batting average, according to STATS.
"The adrenaline takes over. You don’t really feel tired or anything like that," Kershaw said. "It’s the playoffs. So it doesn’t really — obviously your routines change a little bit, different things like that, but as far as being prepared, being ready for it, I’ll be fine come tomorrow."
Pitching on short rest, Kershaw took a no-decision against Atlanta in 2013 and lost at St. Louis last year.
"When I’ve had successes and failures, I don’t think it’s because of being tired. I just think it’s because you’re not making the pitches," he said.
Kershaw was 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA this season, going 11-1 with a 1.22 ERA and four complete games — three shutouts — in his final 17 starts. He struck out 301 batters, the first major league pitcher in 13 years to reach 300.
Wood, acquired July 30 from Atlanta, went 12-12 with a 3.84 ERA for the Braves and Dodgers this season. He has not pitched since Oct. 2.
"Would I have any preference? Yeah, I’ve got a preference," chuckling Mets manager Terry Collins said, drawing laughs. "Believe me, this is no slap at Alex Wood. He’s a fine pitcher, but I don’t want that other monster on the mound. I can tell you that. Again, no disrespect, because he’s a good pitcher, but that other guy is — I’ve been around him way too much. I know exactly what he can do."
Wood pitched two innings of relief Monday and yielded four runs and four hits, including a three-run homer to Yoenis Cespedes.
If the series goes the full five games, deGrom would face Game 2 winner Zack Greinke on Thursday in Los Angeles.
"Kershaw and Greinke were not good enough to win 90 games by themselves," Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "Everybody had to do their job — us on the offense, the other starting pitchers when they had their chance. But, as it lines up now, we need Kershaw tomorrow to get the win and then go back to L.A. with Greinke."