After a dominating 13-6 victory over the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 last night, the Dodgers are pretty confident they’ll get the job done tonight in Game 4 as they send Ricky Nolasco to the mound.
According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers have opted not to use Clayton Kershaw on short rest, entrusting Nolasco with the task of getting them into the NLCS:
#Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said after the game that Ricky Nolasco, not Clayton Kershaw, is starting Game 4.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 7, 2013
Nolasco started off his Dodger career strong, after coming over in a trade from the Miami Marlins in July. Nolasco went 8-1 with a sub 2.00 ERA in his first 12 starts with the team and was looking like the choice to start Game 3 in the playoffs. Well, all that changed in his last few starts in September, as Nolasco struggled mightily and the Dodgers went with Hyun-Jin Ryu in last night’s game.
The Dodgers decided to not use Kershaw on short rest after all, something Don Mattingly hinted at if they lost Game 3 and were down 2-1 in the series. Kershaw has never pitched on three days rest and after tossing 124 pitches on Thursday, it’s the right move to go with Nolasco.
In the month of September, Nolasco went 2-2 with a 6.66 ERA while allowing 22 runs after allowing less than 20 runs in July and August combined. In his last three starts, Nolasco allowed six or more runs in each, unable to get past the sixth inning in either game, lasting less than two innings against the Giants on Sept. 14.
Despite the struggles, the Dodgers are banking on Nolasco to turn things around and pitch like he was pitching before his struggles began. It’s a tough task to ask for a struggling pitcher, but the Dodgers have luxury of having the best pitcher in baseball waiting for Game 5, if needed.
In case you missed it, here’s the Dodgers pool celebration, PLUS Yasiel Puig’s celebration dance off!