Manager Don Mattingly announced Tuesday that the left-hander will pitch Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the New York Mets on Friday at Dodger Stadium. The Mets will counter with right-hander Jacob deGrom.
The Dodgers had two excellent options from which to choose: Kershaw, the reigning NL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner who led the league this year with 301 strikeouts, and right-hander Zack Greinke, who topped the NL with a 1.66 ERA and a 0.844 walks-and-hits-per-innings-pitched ratio. Greinke has a 2-2 record with a 3.63 ERA in seven career postseason starts.
Kershaw (16-7, 2.13 ERA), Greinke (19-3) and Chicago Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA) figure to be in a three-way battle for this year's NL Cy Young Award.
The primary knock on Kershaw is his woeful playoff history: 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 11 career postseason appearances, including eight starts. Each of the past two years, he lost twice in the NL Division Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing a total of 18 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings (7.15 ERA).
Mattingly shrugged off those numbers.
"I look at this year in the present tense," the manager said. "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."
Greinke will oppose Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard on Saturday in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. When the series moves to New York for Game 3 on Monday, Dodgers left-hander Brett Anderson will face off with Mets right-hander Matt Harvey.
If Game 4 is necessary in New York on Tuesday, left-hander Steven Matz would start for the Mets. The Dodgers did not designate a Game 4 starter. Options would include left-hander Alex Wood or Kershaw on three days' rest.