LOS ANGELES -- It will be either Clayton Kershaw or Julio Urias on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Division Series, with the club electing to sleep on the decision.
The Dodgers' official stance is that they will announce the decision Tuesday morning in advance of a potential elimination game after they were defeated 8-3 by the Washington Nationals on Monday at Dodger Stadium. The victory gave the Nationals a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Kershaw declined to talk, saying only "you guys look angry," with a smile as he left the clubhouse after Monday's game.
The Dodgers' choices are not so simple. Do they start one of the best pitchers in the game on short rest Tuesday, after he had to fight his way through five innings in a Game 1 victory Friday? Or do they go with a well-rested and talented rookie in Urias, who has made just 18 career appearances, 15 of them starts and is just 20 years old?
If the Dodgers go with Urias and the youngster starts them on the way to a victory, the Dodgers could then come back with a fully rested Kershaw in the deciding Game 5 at Washington on Thursday. Another factor in the decision is that Kershaw spent 75 days on the disabled list this season with a lower back injury.
"With an elimination game, we still have to win two games," Roberts said after Monday's defeat. "So the thought of having Julio pitch at home, versus the road is something we're thinking through, and what gives us the best chance to win two games. And obviously, yeah, you have to win [Tuesday] to win on Thursday."
Kershaw dominated in the first inning against the Nationals on Friday, striking out the side, but then fought the command with his slider from there. He gave up eight hits with a walk, but struck out seven, while giving up a run. The bullpen finished off the victory that gave the Dodgers an early lead in the series.
But the Dodgers lost the next two games, and need two consecutive victories to keep their season alive.
Dodgers players seemed hesitant to voice a preference.
"That's not my call," veteran Adrian Gonzalez said. "No matter what, we need to win two games, and he can't pitch both of them. Whoever is out there, we will be fully confident in him and focus on winning [Tuesday], and then we'll worry about Game 5.
Rookie Corey Seager gave the closest thing to a definitive opinion on the matter.
"Obviously you'd like to see your big guy," Seager said, referring to Kershaw. "But they know more than I do. It's one of those things that they'll figure it out and they will make us ready for [Tuesday]."
The Nationals were the first team Urias faced twice in the regular season. He did not get a decision in either game, but the Dodgers won both. He gave up a combined three runs on 11 hits in nine innings, with 10 strikeouts.