His second National League Cy Young Award seemingly a formality at this point, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw gets one more postseason tune up on Friday night against the Rockies -- his last start of the regular season.
With a 1.88 ERA entering Friday, Kershaw has a chance to become the first Dodgers pitcher to finish with an ERA below two since Sandy Koufax did so in his final season (1.73 ERA in 1966). Barring a significant meltdown, Kershaw is also a lock to become the first pitcher since Greg Maddux in 1993-95 to lead Major League Baseball in ERA three years in a row.
Kershaw will start Game 1 of the NL Division Series next Thursday, and his start against Colorado could go a long way toward determining just where he'll take the mound. By virtue of Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Giants and Atlanta's win, the Dodgers would need to sweep the Rockies and have the Cardinals be swept by the Cubs in order to start the NL Division Series at home.
"It will be normal within reason," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw's pitch count for Friday's game. "Not 115 or 120 pitches."
Opposite Kershaw on Friday will be Rockies right-hander Collin McHugh (0-3, 8.59). He's coming off an outing in which the D-backs pounded him for six runs and 11 hits in five innings of work.
The 26-year-old McHugh has had a rough time as a starter throughout his career -- in eight starts, he's 0-6 with a 7.64 ERA.
Though McHugh has struggled a bit, Rockies manager Walt Weiss has been pleased with the improvement of his young arms this season.
"You turn on the TV in October, you're going to see a lot of good arms," Weiss said. "I think ultimately, you have to perform well on the mound. I think we've taken some strides, especially with the three starters, we've come a long way in that department. I feel like you can never have too many arms."
Rockies: Helton says goodbye
Todd Helton played his final game at Coors Field on Wednesday, as the first baseman who has spent his entire career with the Rockies is set to retire after the weekend series in Los Angeles.
"I'm at the point where I don't want to get my body to try to go through another season," Helton said. "Mentally, 17 years is enough. Physically, it's definitely enough. So I think I'm at peace with it."
Perhaps it's fitting that Helton's final games will come at Dodger Stadium. His 56 RBIs there are more than he has in any away ballpark, and his 107 hits and 13 home runs there are tied for first with Arizona's Chase Field.
Dodgers: Ethier resumes workouts
Cleared by doctors after Wednesday's MRI and CT scan, Andre Ethier resumed workouts on his injured left ankle on Thursday.
Ethier is able to hit, catch balls in the outfield and throw. Mattingly said the club will wait until next week to test Ethier on the bases, and determine his role, if any, in the first round of the playoffs.
"It doesn't mean we're not moving forward," Mattingly said. "I'm a little more encouraged today."
• Kershaw was named the winner of the eighth annual Roy Campanella Award, given to the Dodger who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame Brooklyn catcher.
• The Dodgers and Rockies have split their 16 meetings this season. Colorado hasn't taken a season series against L.A. since 2007.
• Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler has hit Kershaw well, posting a .421 average in 38 at-bats.
• Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has 25 home runs this season, making him just the sixth shortstop in history with at least four 25-homer seasons.