Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland are in Pot 4, meaning they could be drawn to face England in the group stages of the tournament.First-time qualifiers Northern Ireland and Wales are in Pot 4 as well.The tournament kicks-off in June of next year.
LOS ANGELES — This has happened before.In fact, it has happened three consecutive seasons now. Clayton Kershaw has been lost to injury – and the Dodgers have played better than they were before his injury.Counting his two stints on the DL with back injuries in 2016 and 2017 and the first 24 games of his absence due to biceps tendinitis this season, the Dodgers have gone 74-45 while Kershaw was on the DL. That is an inexplicably better winning percentage (.622) than they have with Kershaw on the active roster in those three seasons (.584).“I guess they don’t need me,” Kershaw joked when asked about the record. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “No, it’s just a compliment to this team that we have guys who can fill voids. You see that all over the place when guys have been out. We always have a lot of guys on the DL every year it seems like. Part of the culture around here is just a ‘next-man-up’ mentality.”Through Tuesday, the next men up had made 25 starts since Kershaw’s last appearance. In that time, the Dodgers starters posted a 3.09 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings.“That’s certainly not my sentiment,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw’s “They don’t need me” line.“I think it’s just coincidence. Guys have stepped up when he’s been down. But there’s no question that we’re better when he’s there and we’re excited for him to make his start on Thursday.”That anticipation for Kershaw’s return no doubt ramped up when Kenta Maeda left his start Tuesday in the second inning with a hip injury. The Dodgers have needed more than one next man to step up. Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu joined Kershaw on the DL this month.In their absence, Walker Buehler and Ross Stripling have stepped to the forefront. In their nine starts this month, those two have combined for a 1.87 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 53 innings and a .198 average against. Kershaw has noticed.“They’ve been pitching unbelievable,” he said over the weekend. “I think they’re way beyond filling the void. I think they’re here to stay for awhile. Strip (Friday against the San Diego Padres), not only did he pitch well, but that’s really, really good stuff. That’s like top-of-the-line starter stuff that he was featuring last night. Walker’s the same way.“It’s fun. Hopefully, these guys keep pitching like that – we’re going to be in a good spot.”The key for this to continue is “execution” of pitches, Roberts said.“You look at Ross Stripling and the boost he’s given us and how he’s executed his pitches,” Roberts said. “Walker’s done the same thing, obviously with plus-plus stuff but he’s executed. He really has. And I think Kenta, his past two starts, he’s executed as much as he has all year.“You look at those guys and Woody (Alex Wood) has been kind of fighting some things but outside of that last one has done a really nice job for us. I think it’s more execution and they’ve fed off each other’s starts.”ALSORight-hander Brock Stewart was returned to Triple-A Oklahoma City after going four innings in a start Monday. With Kershaw coming off the DL, Stewart won’t be needed in the rotation again. In his place, the Dodgers recalled utilityman Breyvic Valer from OKC.Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals at the start of the season, Valera has hit .317 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 36 games for OKC but is 0 for 4 during three previous promotions to the Dodgers. He is likely to be headed back to OKC on Thursday when Kershaw is activated from the DL.Closer Kenley Jansen took a tumble on the outfield warning track while doing his conditioning run Tuesday afternoon. Jansen tripped on a hole in the warning track and came away with a scrape on his knee but said he was fine to pitch Tuesday night.The photographer who was injured during Monday’s game, Mark Hammond of Black News Service, received 40 stitches in his forehead and was using crutches to get around Tuesday. Hammond was injured when he fell in the photo well while trying to avoid a foul ball. The game was briefly stopped while he received treatment.UP NEXTPhillies (RHP Zach Eflin, 1-1, 3.27 ERA) at Dodgers (RHP Ross Stripling, 2-1, 1.74 ERA), Wednesday, 7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA (where available)