Games 1, 2 and 5 will be played in Los Angeles, Games 3 and 4 in New York. Games 4 and 5 will only be played if necessary.
Greinke was a viable candidate to start Game 1 as well. He led the majors with a 1.66 ERA, breaking Kershaw’s streak of four straight seasons leading the majors, and is the favorite to win the National League Cy Young.
“We didn’t really feel like we could make a bad choice with that,” said Dodger manager Don Mattingly about the decision during a press conference. “Really no way we can make a mistake with that.”
Should Greinke win the Cy Young, it would be the first time a starter who later won the Cy Young did not start the opening game of the playoffs (if applicable) since Barry Zito in 2002.
In this case, it was to give Zito a full four days rest before his start. Zito had thrown the last day of the season, and the Division Series started two days later.
Kershaw, despite dominating in the regular season, has struggled in the playoffs. He has a 5.12 career postseason ERA and a 7.15 ERA over the last two postseasons.
“I look at this year in the present tense,” Mattingly told ESPN. “There are probably only a few people in the world who could talk about Kershaw. If you don’t talk to Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson or somebody like that, there’s really nobody else who’s on his level. I don’t need to defend him. This year is this year. We’ll see what happens.”
Kershaw gave up one earned run in 16 innings — a 0.56 ERA — over two starts against the Mets in 2015, including taking a perfect game into the seventh inning.
While the Mets have announced rookie left-hander Steven Matz will start Game 4 if necessary, both Mattingly and Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said that there is a possibility that Kershaw will pitch Game 4 on three days rest.
“I think it at least presents the option,” Zaidi told ESPN Tuesday. “At the appropriate time, I’m sure we’ll have more conversations about that.”
The alternative would be starting trade-deadline acquisition Alex Wood (4.53 ERA with the Dodgers).
In two career postseason starts one three days rest, Kershaw has a 2.25 ERA over 12 innings.
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