The Dodgers announced on Wednesday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, which begins at 8:37 p.m. ET on MLB Network. Kershaw will start Game 2 on Friday (9:37 p.m. on FS1).
The move marks the first time since 2009 that Kershaw will not start a postseason opener for the Dodgers. Kershaw has allowed eight runs on 14 hits over his past 11 innings, while Ryu has given up only one run on 12 hits in his past 19 innings.
But there appears to be a subtle strategic element involved, too.
Ryu and Kershaw would each be able to remain on five days' rest, as opposed to Kershaw not getting the extra day and Ryu being perhaps too rested if they alternated. Even though he is starting Game 2, Kershaw can line up to start a potential decisive Game 5 of the NLDS, which won't take place until next Wednesday.
Kershaw dealt with back issues for a third straight season this year, but was still able to finish with a 2.73 ERA in 161 1/3 innings. Ryu missed more than three months with a groin injury but put up a 1.97 ERA in 82 1/3 innings.