Kershaw handled Atlanta in the first game of the NLDS, allowing one run on three hits in seven innings.
What they’ll get out of the 25-year old on three days’ rest is unknown; the lefty has never performed under such circumstances.
The ineffectiveness of Nolasco late in the season no doubt factored into the decision. After winning eight of his first nine decisions since coming over from the Marlins, the Los Angeles native went winless in his final four appearances.
In only 13 innings spanning the four starts, he allowed 19 runs.
Before yesterday’s 13-6 victory, Dodger manager Don Mattingly was asked if Kershaw would pitch Game 4 on three days’ rest. In the pregame press conference Mattingly brushed off the speculation, saying, “Right now Ricky is the pitcher in Game 4. That’s what we’ve decided, so right now, Ricky is the pitcher.”
After beating the Braves to force an elimination game, Mattingly was more cryptic of his choice of starting pitchers.
“The biggest thing was getting the win today,” Mattingly said after the game. “That’s been the plan the whole time is kind of win every day. I’d like to be able to close us out tomorrow. I didn't know there was any debate, really.”
When pressed to clarify if that meant he would turn to his ace today, Mattingly said, “You never know what happens. Twists and turns of the game…”
Though the decision comes as a surprise to some, it’s likely Mattingly thoroughly discussed the contingencies with both Kershaw and Nolasco.
For his part, Nolasco said all the right things when he addressed the media yesterday. He patiently answered all the questions, as if he already knew the outcome. When asked about the possibility of being replaced by Kershaw in Game 4, Nolasco was clear.
“This isn’t about me,” Nolasco said. “This is about the team. Whatever decision they make is going to be the best decision for the team. So I’m with whatever – they’re the ones who get paid to make those decisions and stuff like that, so I’ll be here ready to take the ball whenever they ask me to pitch.”
If the Braves defeat Kershaw and the Dodgers, Zack Greinke would be available to start the decisive Game 5 in Atlanta.
Should the Dodgers eliminate the Braves tonight and advance to the NLCS, Greinke would be in line to start Game 1, with Kershaw in Game 2.
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