It's Ross vs. Kershaw in Game 4

We now know who will take the mound for Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Nationals and Dodgers, set to begin at 5:05 p.m. EDT. Dusty Baker will send out right-hander Joe Ross for his first career postseason start, while Dave Roberts will call upon left-hander Clayton Kershaw on short rest and facing elimination.

The Nationals' 8-3 win in Game 3 on Monday not only gave them a 2-1 edge in the best-of-five series, but also gave them flexibility in setting their rotation for the rest of the NLDS. By not facing elimination, Baker doesn't have to send out his own ace, Max Scherzer, on short rest for Game 4 and then possibly Tanner Roark for a winner-take-all Game 5 in D.C. on Thursday. Because of Saturday's rainout at Nats Park, Roark would also be pitching on just four days' rest.

Joe-Ross-throwing-gray-sidebar.jpgInstead, the Nationals will look to 23-year-old Ross to clinch the club's first ever postseason series win. Ross had a solid start to the season, going 7-4 with a 3.30 ERA in 15 starts over the first three months of the season. But right shoulder inflammation landed him on the disabled list in early July and he didn't return to major league action until mid-September. Over his three starts after returning from the DL, Ross went 0-1 with a 2.79 ERA in just 9 2/3 innings. There will be concerns with how long he can pitch today against the Dodgers as he never went longer than four innings and topped out at 90 pitches in those last three outings.

But the Nationals have an insurance policy for Ross today: Reynaldo Lopez. After yesterday's win, it figured to come down t a choice between Ross and Lopez for today's start, and with Lopez's recent success out of the bullpen, it's no surprise Ross gets to start the game. In five appearances out of the bullpen, Lopez is 3-0 with a hold and a 3.68 ERA. Having been groomed as a starter, his ability to go multiple innings of relief is what Baker will count on for this one-two punch in Game 4.

Meanwhile, Kershaw will start for Los Angeles today on three days' rest, having started Game 1 on Friday. It took some time in that game, but the Nationals finally got to the dominant southpaw, who gave up three runs and threw 101 pitches in just five innings.

In 10 starts on short rest this season, Kershaw is 6-1 with a 1.35 ERA. Kershaw also isn't foreign to pitching on short rest in the postseason. While also facing elimination entering Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS against the Mets, the Dodgers called upon Kershaw to keep their season alive. He earned the win, pitching seven innings of one-run ball, but gave up a home run to - you guessed it - Daniel Murphy.

NLDS Game 4 lineups: Nats at Dodgers
Starters still unnamed as countdown to Game 4 loom...

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