LOS ANGELES -- With their backs against the wall, the Los Angeles Dodgers will ask one of their best players to do something he hasn't done before, but it was actually his idea.
Manager Dave Roberts said Walker Buehler came up to him after Game 2 of the National League Division Series and broached the idea of starting on short rest in Game 4. Buehler has never started on three days rest in his career, but it was a pretty easy choice for the Dodgers.
"Taking down as many outs as we can with the best arms available was the original thought," Roberts said. "Walker actually brought it up to us. We were late in deciding because we wanted to make sure he woke up today feeling good. Once he came in today and felt good, it was a no-brainer."
Roberts said Buehler talked to Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, both of whom have gone on short rest in the postseason, to try and get a guide for how to do it. He said he probably would not have started Buehler on short rest if the Dodgers had won Game 3, but the Giants shut them out 1-0. This sets up Logan Webb and Julio Urias for a potential Game 5 matchup.
Buehler went up against Webb in Game 1 of the series and allowed three earned over 6 1/3 innings, but over the last half-decade he has been perhaps the best postseason pitcher in the game. Buehler has a 2.53 ERA in 12 career postseason starts, with 88 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings.
"He loves big games and he loves the moment," said Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen. "This is his moment to shine. He did it last year for us with the backs against the wall. He was our stopper. We have so many capable arms, but it says a lot about him being able to take the ball in a situation like this."
With Kershaw hurt, the Dodgers certainly didn't have a better option. Tony Gonsolin is their only starter who hasn't appeared in this series, but that likely would have turned into a bullpen game of sorts. The hope is that Buehler can get deeper and turn it over to late-innings arms that were pretty dominant on Monday night.
Incredibly, this will be Buehler's eighth start of the year against the Giants. He faced them in all six regular season series and again to start this series, and while his ERA in the regular season was 2.19 against the Giants, they have seen him well the last two times.
"That's why aces are aces, they don't run from fights," Roberts said. "It's a good club over there and for Walker to want to take the ball on short rest shows why he's a top-end starter."