The Dodgers are in desperate need of wins, as they trailed St. Louis by three games for the second National League wild card spot with just 10 games remaining entering play on Sunday. But their decision to start ailing ace Clayton Kershaw on Sunday against the Reds wasn't one of desperation, but rather a calculated move.
Kershaw has an impingement in his right hip, but after meeting with specialists it was determined the left-hander could pitch without further damaging his hip. If pain allowed, that is. After throwing a bullpen session on Friday, Kershaw was named Sunday starter on Saturday night. But the decision wasn't manager Don Mattingly's alone.
"Some of the best medical guys in the country all agree on it, people smarter than me. It was a group decision with everybody laying it on the table," Mattingly said. "He promised if he feels anything, he'll stop and not throw another pitch."
Kershaw showed the rust of 11 days off without pitching as he walked five batters against the Reds, his highest total since April 26, 2011. But he also allowed just one run in five innings and kept the Dodgers in the game, which they won 5-3. Kershaw also struck out five to give him 211 on the season, most in the National League.
Still three games behind St. Louis with nine games remaining, the Dodgers can start Kershaw two more times on regular rest, assuming he remains healthy and relatively pain-free.
"I'm not willing to give up. I've seen crazy things happen. Kersh is not giving up and the organization is not giving up," Mattingly said.