In a shocking turn of events from the news late last night, the Dodgers decided to go with Clayton Kershaw on three-days rest rather than start Ricky Nolasco on regular rest.
Kershaw pitched Game 1 and tossed 124 pitches in his seven-inning, one-run 12 strikeout performance and with the Dodgers leading the series 2-1, Don Mattingly and the staff didn’t want to risk anything.
In his pregame press conference, Mattingly talked about the input he had from Kershaw himself according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times:
Mattingly on Kershaw: “He was the one basically saying, ‘This is why I work so hard.’ ”
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 7, 2013
Mattingly also mentioned that after Game 3, Kershaw was “barking” to the coaching staff that he wanted to take the ball tonight. Meanwhile, Nolasco was informed late last night that he wouldn’t start tonight, but did say that he supported the decision to go with the better pitcher.
The concern about throwing Kershaw on three days rest is that he won’t be ready for a potential Game 1 in the NLCS, but Mattingly is looking at winning tonight, not four days from now. He also said knowing that Zack Greinke would start an if necessary Game 5 in Atlanta.
Mattingly also said that Kershaw has been lobbying to start Game 4 for quite some time according to Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA.com:
Mattingly said Kershaw “was barking right after Game 1 that he was ready for Game 4.”
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) October 7, 2013
Kershaw has never pitched on three-days rest in his career, but if he’s so adamant about starting tonight, there’s no way Mattingly and company could say no. I’ll take a fired up Kershaw on three-days rest over more than half the starting pitchers in baseball and hopefully he’ll throw a good game tonight.
Mattingly went as far to say that the decision wasn’t made due to his contract situation, but winning Game 4 tonight with Kershaw on the mound, would be a step forward in his job security.
In case you missed it, here’s Juan Uribe’s home run, advancing Dodgers to NLCS