The Los Angeles Dodgers will begin postseason play for the sixth consecutive season Thursday, but unlike the previous five seasons, Clayton Kershaw won’t be their Game 1 pitcher.
Instead, fellow left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will get the start against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium, with Kershaw set to start Game 2 of the best-of-five National League Division Series Friday, also at Dodger Stadium.
Dodger manager Dave Roberts said the decision to have Ryu start Game 1 and Kershaw Game 2 “was more of just trying to appreciate that both games have equal importance, and what we can do to put both pitchers in the best position to succeed.”
“When you look at it and giving each guy one extra day of rest as opposed to Hyun-Jin and Clayton on regular rest and then you look at Game 3, Walker (Buehler) on an extra day, made more sense to us,” Roberts said.
Ryu most recently pitched on Friday, limiting the San Francisco Giants to one run and four hits in six innings in a 3-1 victory and was credited with the victory.
Kershaw most recently pitched on Saturday, getting a no decision after allowing five runs and eight hits in five innings in a 10-6 victory over the Giants that assured the Dodgers of a post-season berth.
Ryu did not face Atlanta this season. He is 0-1 lifetime in three appearances against the Braves with a 2.94 ERA.
Ryu’s most recent appearance against Atlanta was on Aug. 13, 2014, where he allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings and was charged with the loss in a 3-2 loss.
Ryu will be making his first postseason appearance since Game 3 of a 2013 NLDS where he did not figure in the decision in a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals where he allowed one run and five hits over six innings.
Ryu is 1-0 lifetime with a 2.81 ERA in three postseason appearances.
Ryu was 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA in the regular season. He was on the disabled list from May 3 through Aug. 15 because of a left groin strain.
Roberts is likely to relieve Ryu before he faces the entire Braves lineup three times because statistics indicate pitchers are less effective the third time they face the opposing lineup.
In their 15 2017 postseason games, Dodger starters pitched at least six innings four times, including three times by Kershaw. Roberts used an average of 4.4 relievers per game during the 2017 postseason.
Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz will start for the Braves. He was 13-10 with a 2.85 ERA.
Foltynewicz lost to the Dodgers July 27, allowing four runs and six hits in five innings in a 4-1 loss. He is 1-1 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 5.55 ERA.
The Dodgers won the regular-season series against Atlanta, 5-2, winning four of the final five games.
The Dodgers needed a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies in a tiebreaker Monday to win their sixth consecutive NL West Division title.
The Dodgers 92-71 record was the third-best in the NL behind the Central Division champion Brewers (96-67) and the division’s runner-up, the Chicago Cubs (95-68).
The Braves won the NL East with a 90-72 record, advancing to the postseason for the first time since 2013.
The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Dodger scout Mike Brito who is credited with helping sign Fernando Valenzuela, Yasiel Puig and Julio Urias. Brito is in his 40th year in the organization.
The national anthem will be sung by gospel singer Keith Williams Jr.
The food specials for the series are:
— hot link with barbecue sauce and vinegar slaw;
— mac and cheese hot link burrito with pulled pork and baked beans;
— carne asade base bowl nachos;
— “Dodger Wings” Buffalo wings topped with blue cheese crumbles served with blue cheese dressing;
— peach barbecue bourbon wings, smoked wings with a grilled peach barbecue sauce served with ranch dipping sauce;
— meat lovers pizza, pizza topped meatball, pepperoni and sausage;
— rib bundle, a bucket of peach barbecue ribs, macaroni salad, fries and Kona barbecue sauce;
— bratwurst topped with sauerkraut; and
— barbecue chicken nachos.
All potential postseason games at Dodger Stadium through the NL Championship Series are sold out. Alternative ticketing options are available at Dodgers.com/Postseason, which includes links to team partners on the secondary market.
Auto gates will open at 2:40 p.m. for the 5:37 p.m. game.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early, purchase parking in advance, carpool or use a ride-sharing service.
The Dodger Stadium Express will continue to operate during the postseason from both Union Station and the South Bay, with service starting two hours before the game and free for everyone with a game ticket.
More information on transportation options can be found at Dodgers.com/transportation.