Clayton Kershaw (4-5, 4.41) vs. Paul Maholm (9-8, 3.68).
COMMENTS: Morning, sleepyheads! For the first time in 17 days, the Dodgers didn't trim at least one game from their magic number, which remains at eight. The Dodgers' lead over the Diamondbacks is 3.5 with ten games left. The Dodgers are 12-3 in September. Things are looking good, but the post-season? We're not talking about it.
So what are we talking about? Kershaw, for starters. The Dodgers have won his past three starts, but Kershaw has already thrown 157 innings this year (96 for the Dodgers and 61 for Jacksonville). If you believe in what SI.com's Tom Verducci calls the "Year-After Effect," then Kershaw, after throwing 122 innings between Jacksonville and Great Lakes last year, should be done for the season. Instead, he's in the thick of a pennant race. Present versus future? It's a tough call.
In the other dugout, Maholm is nearing 200 innings pitched himself. If the Dodgers can make him throw a lot of pitches early, then maybe they can get to the Pirates' bullpen, which they touched up for three runs yesterday before their own bullpen imploded. In any case, this has already been a winning road trip for the Dodgers; today's outcome determines if they will have gone 7-3 or 6-4. Ah, September baseball!