LOS ANGELES — Walker Buehler will get the ball with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season on the line Tuesday, starting Game 4 of the National League Division Series from Dodger Stadium and pitching on short rest for the first time in his career.
Buehler, who will oppose San Francisco Giants right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, will be pitching on three days’ rest, a relatively quick turnaround after giving up three runs in 6⅓ innings and taking the loss in Friday’s Game 1.
The decision, coming off a 1-0 loss to the Giants on Monday night, is largely a function of Clayton Kershaw being unavailable for the postseason with lingering inflammation in his forearm/elbow. The Dodgers clearly don’t employ a go-to fourth starter that they trust as much Buehler on short rest.
Tony Gonsolin, 27, was the conventional option, but he allowed eight runs over his last 12 regular-season innings. Another option was David Price, but the former Cy Young Award winner has spent the vast majority of this season in a nondescript bullpen role and isn’t necessarily stretched out.
If the Dodgers hadn’t turned to Buehler, the more likely scenario was that they would stage the equivalent of a bullpen game, with Gonsolin and Price likely factoring in.
Buehler starting Game 4 means Julio Urias, a 20-game winner this season, will line up on normal rest for a potential Game 5 from Oracle Park in San Francisco on Thursday — assuming Urias isn’t needed out of the bullpen for the Dodgers to survive Game 4. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Monday night that “everything’s on the table.”