With a 2-1 series lead in the NLDS and the chance to advance to the NLCS tonight, the Dodgers are going ahead and starting ace Clayton Kershaw.
Ricky Honeycutt announced late last night that the Dodgers would start Ricky Nolasco on regular rest after Kershaw threw 124 pitches in Game 1 on Thursday. Coupled together with the fact that Kershaw has never started on three days rest, Nolasco seemed like the logical choice tonight.
However, the Dodgers announced that the coaching staff had a change of heart and Kershaw will start Game 4 tonight:
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 7, 2013
Nolasco hasn’t been the same in September as he finished the year 2-2 with a 6.66 ERA after starting his Dodger career off strongly. This season, Nolasco was 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA against the Braves, but those starts were while he was with the Miami Marlins.
In Game 1, Kershaw was absolutely dominant, allowing just one run in seven innings and struck out 12 Braves, but the high pitch count was alarming. Don Mattingly never tipped his hand to say that Kershaw was absolutely not starting on short rest, but with Freddy Garcia on the mound for the Braves, why not go for the jugular?
The move then aligns the Dodgers rotation to have Zack Greinke start Game 5 in Atlanta if necessary and if Kershaw closes it out tonight, they’d have their aces on the mound for Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS.
It’s clear that the Dodgers aren’t taking any chances, especially after last night’s poor performance from Hyun-Jin Ryu and don’t want another long flight back to Atlanta.
In case you missed it, here’s the Dodgers pool celebration, PLUS Yasiel Puig’s celebration dance off!