It's official: Joe Torre has selected 21-year-old Clayton Kershaw to start Thursday against the defending world champs.
Speculation was that it would be either one of the team's lefty starters, Kershaw or Randy Wolf, to hopefully neutralize the Phillies left-handed batters. Wolf had the more consistent season, and he's a seasoned veteran. But he's gotten off to shaky starts in his last two outings, while Kershaw has been magnificent--first in his division-clinching performance against the Rockies, and then in Game 2 of the Cards series.
And Torre wasn't done with the surprises.
Unlike the Cards series when the two Dodger lefties topped the rotation, Torre will give the ball to Vicente Padilla in Game 2, followed by Hiroki Kuroda pitching Game 3 in Philly, and then Wolf In Game 4. Chad Billingsley will be the long relief man.
The Phillies will start Cole Hamels on Thursday. He absolutely dominated the Dodgers in two starts in last year's LCS. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel hasn't named the rest of his rotation. If the Phillies lose Game 1, you gotta believe he'll be tempted to bring back Cliff Lee on short rest for Game 2.
Reminder: the LCS format is 2-3-2. It's crucial that the Dodgers hold serve in those first two games. Don't want to give the Phillies a chance to close out at home.
--The weather is supposed to clear up overnight and should be sunny and clear for Game 1.
--The Dodgers have a few former Phillies on their roster: Vicente Padilla pitched 5+ seasons there, winning 14 games in back-to-back years (2002-03); Randy Wolf pitched his first eight seasons there, winning a career high 16 games in '03; and Jim Thome belted 96 HRs there from '03-'05.
--Former Dodgers on the Phillies roster include outfielder Jayson Werth, who was a promising player here in '04-'05. He sat out '06 with an injury and then signed with the Phillies, where he has blossomed. This year he belted 36 HRs with 99 RBIs and was named to the All-Star team; and then there's Pedro Martinez, who started his career here, pitching two seasons before being traded to Montreal. One of the Dodgers' worst trades ever.