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OC Register: Dodgers tap Walker Buehler for Game 1 against Milwaukee Brewers


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LOS ANGELES – Walker Buehler will start Game 1 of the National League wild card series Wednesday for the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw will start Game 2.

By handing the opening assignment to Buehler, Manager Dave Roberts resolved the most immediate question about the Dodgers’ postseason plans Sunday. Buehler missed three starts down the stretch with a blister on his right index finger. He returned Wednesday to pitch four shutout innings against the A’s, and afterward declared himself fit for the postseason.

Both Buehler and Kershaw have maintained a posture of ambivalence over who starts when. In a best-of-three series, it’s nearly a moot point.

“There’s not a lot that really needed to go into it,” Roberts said of the decision. “We feel really good that both are great options.”

Buehler went 1-0 with a 3.44 earned-run average in eight starts this season. He struck out 42 batters and walked 11 in 36 2/3 innings. Buehler threw 65 pitches in his last start and has thrown as many as 92 in a game this season.

After missing his scheduled Opening Day assignment with a back injury, Kershaw went 6-2 with a 2.16 ERA in 10 starts. He’s the only Dodger starter to throw 99 pitches in a game this year – none threw 100 or more – and completed seven innings on three occasions.

As for who will start the if-necessary Game 3, and who will claim the final “three, four, or five” postseason roster spots up for grabs, that will be determined largely by the Dodgers’ first-round opponent.

The Milwaukee Brewers (29-31) clinched the number-8 seed in the National League despite losing to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Milwaukee held the tiebreaker over the San Francisco Giants, who also finished 29-31, by virtue of their superior record in intradivisional games.

The Brewers went 19-21 against the rest of the NL Central, while the Giants went 18-22 against the NL West.

Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Julio Urías are candidates to start Friday’s game if needed. The two pitchers who do not start will head to the bullpen. That will only bolster an area that is arguably the Dodgers’ greatest strength to begin with. Through Saturday, Dodger relievers led the National League in earned-run average (2.80) and wins (25).

“I thought we were very prepared the last four years,” Roberts said. “What’s different? I think we have a deeper bullpen. Certainly adding Mookie (Betts) makes us better. The experience. All that stuff combined gives us a better chance this year.”

BETTS OUT

Mookie Betts was held out of Sunday’s game with a sore left hip, which absorbed a 90-mph sinker from Angels pitcher Julio Teheran on Saturday. Kiké Hernandez started in right field instead.

Roberts said Betts will take at-bats in a simulated game Tuesday in preparation for the postseason opener Wednesday.

The decision to start Hernandez in right field and Chris Taylor at second base was at least a partial playoff preview.

“Looking out, I think Chris Taylor is going to play a considerable amount of second base,” Roberts said. “Kiké is just so valuable because he can play anywhere on the diamond.”

ALSO

Justin Turner drew a walk, extending his on-base streak to 31 games, the longest in the major leagues. … The Dodgers finished interleague play with a 16-4 record, tied for the best in franchise history. … Roberts said the team will not practice Monday and hold a simulated intrasquad game Tuesday.

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