By Jon Weisman
On this night two years ago, Clayton Kershaw took the mound for the Dodgers against the Giants with a fourth consecutive National League West title within reach, and pitched eight innings to a 9-1 victory and the title.
With the Dodgers’ magic number currently at two, Kershaw has the opportunity to do the same thing tonight, with one catch. Los Angeles is hosting the Rockies while the Giants (and Madison Bumgarner) get underway in San Diego 30 minutes earlier, so it’s not entirely within the Dodgers’ control.
Nevertheless, Kershaw will attempt to do his part in his fourth start this month since returning from the disabled list. After allowing single runs in his first two innings at Miami, Kershaw has thrown 12 innings, allowing six baserunners and striking out 14 with a 0.00 ERA.
Chad Bettis, who has a 4.79 ERA but pitched a two-hit shutout at Coors Field against the Giants on September 5, will start for Colorado.
This will be Kershaw’s penultimate start of the 2016 regular season, according to Dave Roberts, who outlined most of the Dodgers’ starting pitching plans for the remaining games.
- Brandon McCarthy is being activated from the disabled list to start Sunday.
- After an off day Monday, Jose De León will take the mound Tuesday for the Dodgers at San Diego.
- Kenta Maeda will follow De León against the Padres on Wednesday.
- Thursday’s Dodger starter wasn’t officially announced, though Brett Anderson would line up for that spot.
- For the final series in San Francisco, Kershaw will pitch in the first or second games (September 30 or October 1).
- Rich Hill — who is being skipped this weekend as part of the ongoing effort to protect his blister-prone finger — will go October 1 or in the finale October 2.
- Scott Kazmir, forced out of the game after an inning Friday, has neither been guaranteed another start this year nor ruled out.
If the Dodgers win the division, their first playoff game will be October 7.