Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw struck out Melvin Upton Jr. in the third inning Sunday against the San Diego Padres, becoming the first pitcher since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002 to strike out 300 batters in one season.
Kershaw is expected to throw no more than 60 pitches in his final start of the regular season, in the Dodgers’ 162nd game. Fortunately, he was efficient enough to throw 14 pitches in each of the first two innings, striking out two batters in each frame.
After walking off the mound to end the third, Kershaw was greeted by high-fives from his teammates in the Dodgers’ dugout — a rare gesture, since Kershaw is typically left alone. The Dodger Stadium crowd stood to applaud the accomplishment, which was announced on the Dodger Stadium video board.
The Dodgers lead the Padres 2-0 on the strength of a two-run home run by Joc Pederson.
Reports out of New York Sunday morning indicate the Mets plan to start Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey in Games 1, 2, 3 of the National League Division Series in that order.
That news comes as little surprise. The Dodgers haven’t formally announced their rotation, but Clayton Kershaw can be reasonably expected to start Game 1 at Dodger Stadium, with Zack Greinke opposing Syndergaard in Game 2, and either Brett Anderson or Alex Wood against Harvey in Game 3 at Citi Field.
It’s not inconceivable that Greinke, whose 1.66 ERA is the lowest by any qualified league leader in 20 years, could start Game 1 for the Dodgers instead.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was put through the wringer on a multitude of subjects, including Yasiel Puig’s return, Scott Van Slyke’s injury, Jose Peraza’s injury, Zack Greinke’s ERA title chase and Clayton Kershaw’s quest for 300 strikeouts.
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A.J. Ellis praised Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood (rear) after Wood’s 7-inning, 2-run effort against the San Diego Padres on Friday. Hans Gutknecht/Staff photographer)
Who should start Game 3 of the National League Division Series, Alex Wood or Brett Anderson? Neither pitcher made that decision very easy this week — Wood looked sharp on Friday in the Dodgers’ win over the Padres — so it might come down to where Game 3 is played, which is where the debate gets interesting. The box score is here. The photo gallery is here.
Yasiel Puig has a chance to play this weekend. The Dodgers’ organist, Nancy Bea Hefley, announced her retirement.
The Mets have identified their starting shortstop, their leadoff hitter, and their top three starting pitchers for the National League Division Series.
Some other decisions remain but, as Michael Baron writes on the Just The Mets blog, the Dodgers should already have a pretty good idea of what they can expect to see from the Mets in the NLDS.