LEADING OFF: Dodgers hope Kershaw can go in NLCS Game 4

Clayton Kershaw could pitch Game 4 of the NL Championship Series for the Dodgers if the left-hander’s back continues to improve

A look at what’s happening around the majors today:

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BACK IN?

Clayton Kershaw could pitch Game 4 of the NL Championship Series for the Dodgers if the left-hander’s back continues to improve. Kershaw was scratched from his scheduled Game 2 start because of back spasms, and manager Dave Roberts decided to stick with left-hander Julio Urías for Game 3 against Atlanta on Wednesday night. Los Angeles stormed to a 15-3 victory that cut its series deficit to 2-1.

“Every day it’s been better,” Roberts said of Kershaw’s back. “I can’t just sit here right now and say he’s going to start tomorrow. I think if it progresses the way it has, it’s a likely possibility. But again, this is making sure Clayton feels good tomorrow when he wakes up and the training staff gives us our blessing as well.”

The Braves will start rookie right-hander Bryse Wilson, who has just seven professional starts and none in the postseason. He hasn’t pitched since the regular-season finale Sept. 27.

WHO’S UP?

With their season on the line for a second straight night, the Astros aren’t sure who will pitch Game 5 of their AL Championship Series against Tampa Bay. Veteran right-hander Zack Greinke delivered six gutsy innings in a 4-3 Game 4 victory for Houston’s first win of the series, and usual No. 5 starter Cristian Javier followed Greinke by throwing 35 pitches over two-plus innings.

A bullpen game seems likely, and the Rays may counter with a similar strategy after using only Jose Alvarado and Aaron Slegers out of the bullpen Wednesday. Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, Peter Fairbanks and the rest of their deep, vaunted relief corps should be rested.

Tampa Bay remains one win from going to the World Series for the second time in franchise history, while Houston is trying to match the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only teams to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

“We are very motivated,” said Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who has three homers to go along with three throwing errors in the series. “We know the team we have and yes, we want to be the second team coming back from 0-3.”

TALKIN’ WITH TONY

The Los Angeles Angels granted the Chicago White Sox permission to interview Hall of Famer Tony La Russa for their managing job, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday. The person, confirming a USA Today report, spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the Angels typically do not comment on personnel matters.

A three-time World Series-winning manager, the 76-year-old La Russa joined the Angels prior to this season as senior advisor of baseball operations. He hasn’t managed since 2011, when he led St. Louis past Texas in the World Series. He also won championships with Oakland in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006.

The White Sox agreed to split with Rick Renteria after a disappointing finish to a breakthrough season in which Chicago made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

JUDGING GARY

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman isn’t committing to Gary Sánchez as New York’s starting catcher in 2021. Sánchez hit .147 during the pandemic-shortened season, and while his defense has improved, it remains below average. The 27-year-old was benched for four of five games against the Rays in New York’s AL Division Series defeat in favor of backup Kyle Higashioka.

“We have to determine whether this was a byproduct of unique circumstances or more reflection of what is to be expected as we move forward,” Cashman said. “And it could very well be a change, it could very well be a competition, could very well be other. I don’t know, because we haven’t had those conversations. But I know Gary’s capable of a lot.”

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