Dodgers to give Game 1 start to Buehler, not Kershaw

The Los Angeles Dodgers passed over three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw for the start in their playoff opener, opting to give the ball to Walker Buehler.

Buehler, a 25-year-old right-hander, will start Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday against the visiting Washington Nationals.

Buehler finished 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA this year, leading the NL in winning percentage (.778) while striking out 215 batters in 182 1/3 innings. He earned his first All-Star appearance in his third major league season.

He will be matched up against Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.25). Washington's top two starters, right-handers Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, both pitched Tuesday in the team's 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL wild-card game.

Kershaw, 31, earned his eighth All-Star selection this year, and he finished 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA. He fanned 189 batters in 178 1/3 innings.

Kershaw has long had a reputation as a pitcher who performs better in the regular season than the postseason. For his career, he is 169-74 with a 2.44 ERA in 347 regular-season appearances (344 starts) but just 9-10 with a 4.32 ERA in 30 playoff outings (24 starts).

Last year, Kershaw got hit hard twice in a pair of World Series losses to the Boston Red Sox, and he finished 2-3 with a 4.20 ERA in the 2018 postseason.

In 2018, Buehler won the regular-season-ending tiebreaker game against the Colorado Rockies, firing 6 1/3 scoreless innings of one-hit ball. In the playoffs, he went 0-1 with a 3.80 ERA.

The Dodgers had another strong option for the Game 1 start, as left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu went 14-5 this year with a major-league-leading 2.32 ERA.

The best-of-five NLDS will continue with Game 2 at Dodger Stadium on Friday before moving to Nationals Park for Game 3 on Sunday and, if necessary, Game 4 on Monday. If there is a Game 5, it would be played in Los Angeles on Oct. 9.

--Field Level Media