Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, scratched from his scheduled Game 2 start because of back spasms, is a "likely possibility" to start Game 4 against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, manager Dave Roberts said.
Kershaw's back issue flared up after Saturday's bullpen workout and forced the Dodgers to start Tony Gonsolin in Game 2 – an 8-7 loss to the Braves – on Tuesday. Kershaw had "a pretty aggressive" bullpen workout before Tuesday's game in Globe Life Field and received treatment Wednesday.
"He was letting (the ball) go, and he came out of it great," Roberts said before Game 3. "Every day it's been better. ... I talked to him briefly (Wednesday). He's in a good head space. I just know that we're in a better place than we were (on Tuesday). What that means, I don't know quite yet."
Kershaw threw eight scoreless innings, allowing three hits, striking out 13 and walking one, in a 3-0 win over Milwaukee in Game 2 of the wild-card series on Oct. 1. He allowed three runs and six hits, struck out six and walked none in six innings of a 6-5 win over San Diego in Game 2 of the division series on Oct. 7.
If Kershaw can't start Thursday, right-hander Dustin May would likely pitch for the Dodgers. Roberts said he "didn't expect" May to pitch Wednesday, presumably so the hard-throwing right-hander would be available to start Game 4 or 5.
Bryce Wilson will start Game 4 for Atlanta, marking the sixth time in nine games the Braves will start a rookie pitcher this postseason. The 22-year-old right-hander spent most of 2020 at the team's alternate training site. He went 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA in six big league games, two of them starts.
Asked whether he could have imagined over the summer that he'd be starting Game 4 of the NLCS, Wilson said, "Uh ... no, not in a million years. Obviously, this is a goal of mine. For it to actually be coming true. I'm just super thankful."
Wilson, a Hillsborough, North Carolina, native who was a fourth-round pick out of high school in 2016, mixes a two-seam sinking fastball that averages 94.0 mph with a slider (88.8 mph), changeup (87.1 mph) and an occasional curve (78.8 mph).
"I really liked what I saw his last few starts," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He's starting to take a step forward and figure things out. I liked how he attacked guys and used his fastball."
Wilson threw a six-inning, 88-pitch simulated game last Friday after Atlanta's division series sweep of Miami, so he's "ready to go as long as the team needs me to," he said. Wilson will be the third straight rookie to start in the NLCS, following Ian Anderson in Game 2 and Kyle Wright in Game 3.
"You watch video and you just have to kind of go as the game goes," Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts said. "You've never faced them, so there's no way to calibrate how it comes out of his hand and what his pitches look like. But it is what it is. It's new for him. It's new for us."
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