Instead of Kershaw, the greatest lefty of his generation and three-time Cy Young Award winner, the Dodgers will throw right-hander Tony Gonsolin, a 26-year-old rookie who has never appeared in a postseason game and who lasted pitched in a game Sept. 26.
It remained unclear when, if at all, Kershaw could pitch in this series, which is being played at Globe Life Field in Arlington, not far from his hometown of Dallas. The situation is at least somewhat reminiscent to last year’s World Series, when Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer was suddenly scratched from his scheduled Game 5 start with neck spasms, but returned to start Game 7.
Kershaw, 32, was having a resurgent 2020 season, posting the lowest WHIP (.840) of his career and going 6-2 with a 2.16 ERA during this pandemic-shortened regular season, then going 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his first two starts of this postseason.
But he has also battled back injuries for the last several years, including as recently as July, when he was scratched from his Opening Day start due to what the team described at the time as back stiffness, which ultimately sidelined him for nine days.
The Kershaw news underscored the ways in which this year’s LCS format — featuring up to seven games on consecutive nights, with no off-days — will test teams’ pitching depth. The Dodgers were counting on Kershaw to pitch deep into games, in order to save the bullpen for games later in the series, when their rotation plans were less certain.
Gonsolin may be inexperienced when it comes to October, but he has been an important part of the Dodgers’ pitching staff this season, going 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA and a .836 WHIP in eight starts plus one relief appearances. The Dodgers had not specified a role for Gonsolin in this series, but he was a candidate to start Game 4 before the news of Kerhsaw’s injury arrived.
In another significant NLCS development Tuesday, the Braves dropped outfielder Adam Duvall from their roster, after he strained an oblique muscle in Game 1 on Monday night, and replaced him with Johan Camargo, who is primarily an infielder but has also played some corner outfield. By rule, if the Braves make the World Series, Duvall would ineligible to return.