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Change of plans! Dodgers decide to start Clayton Kershaw in Game 4 on short rest

Oct 7, 2013, 3:33 PM EDT

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game One Getty Images

UPDATE: So much for that. Despite pitching coach Rick Honeycutt telling reporters that the Dodgers would save Clayton Kershaw for a potential Game 5 start and go with Ricky Nolasco tonight, the team just announced that the Cy Young winner-to-be will indeed be taking the mound tonight in an effort to finish the Braves.

As noted below, this will be the first short-rest start of Kershaw’s entire career, regular season or playoffs, and he threw 124 pitches Thursday.  However, it also means that if the Dodgers lose tonight they could have Zack Greinke available on full rest for Game 5.


With a 2-1 lead in the NLDS the Dodgers are sticking with Ricky Nolasco as their Game 4 starter tonight against the Braves rather than turning back to Clayton Kershaw on short rest.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers were thinking about using Kershaw in Game 4 if they were facing elimination, but instead they blew out the Braves in Game 3.

Atlanta must now win a game started by Kershaw to win the series, so Los Angeles might as well let him take the mound on full rest, especially since he might not be needed at all and could then be fresh for Game 1 of the NLCS.

Also of note: Kershaw has started 183 career games and none of them have come on short rest. He’s made 103 starts on four days’ rest, 61 starts on five days’ rest, and 18 starts on six or more days’ rest. And in those 18 extra-rest starts Kershaw has a 1.91 ERA.

  1. elwaysagenius - Oct 7, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Somewhere, Craig is jumping for joy

  2. aceshigh11 - Oct 7, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    Smart move.

  3. jimsjam33 - Oct 7, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    It’s good to be a Dodger fan this morning ! Go Nolasco . It’s shut out time !

  4. spudchukar - Oct 7, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    I get the idea of finishing off the Braves, but then Kershaw can only be used twice in the match-up to go to the WS.

  5. emdash01 - Oct 7, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Yeah, the risk-reward seems too weighted toward risk to me. He threw over 120 pitches in his last game, and he’s never pitched on short rest before – what if his command isn’t there? He’s probably the best pitcher on the planet, but even he could be affected by being thrown out of his rhythm in the ultimate pressure situation. And they’d still have a pitching advantage even with Nolasco, in all likelihood. Not a fan of this move at all.

  6. jya87 - Oct 7, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Ricky Nolasco ended the season terribly, but isn’t this exactly the right scenario for him to pitch? Why even keep him on the roster in the first place if the plan was to use Kershaw on short rest, which Kershaw has never done before?

    Slow clap for Don Mattingly.

    • emdash01 - Oct 7, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      He’s been outmanaged in this series by Fredi Gonzalez so far. Fredi Gonzalez! That takes commitment.

      • dannymac17 - Oct 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

        I am not sure where you are seeing him being out managed. Fredi is lucky this wasnt a sweep.

      • emdash01 - Oct 7, 2013 at 4:21 PM

        Game 2, mainly. Fredi gave away an out with the bottom of the order up, which was terrible – only Mattingly out-terrible’d him by having a pitching change for a poor pinch-hitter and walking another poor hitter to get to Jason Heyward. That gave the Braves two runs in a game the Dodgers lost by one. If not for his choices there, it’s possible this thing would be over already.

  7. aceshigh11 - Oct 7, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    It’s never a good idea to rely on one arm to make it to a championship.

    Two? Maybe…worked out for the Diamondbacks with Schilling and Johnson.

    But then the Dodgers have Greinke too, so it all may work out.

    • kingscourt25 - Oct 7, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      It has work. In fact, it’s a Dodgers tradition to ride arms – Koufax, Drysdale, Orel, Fernando, Sutton, and now Kershaw.

      • xmatt0926x - Oct 7, 2013 at 4:34 PM

        I may be wrong, but those guys arms were probably conditioned for a somewhat heavier workload than today’s pitchers. I think most people who question this move look at Kershaw’s 120 or so pitches in his last game and then going on short rest.

        I think it’s pretty risky. Kershaw is an all-timer. Even if Nolasco would lose today I think Kershaw in game 5 is still a pretty good position for the Dodgers.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 7, 2013 at 5:02 PM

        I may be wrong, but those guys arms were probably conditioned for a somewhat heavier workload than today’s pitchers.

        Specially Koufax right? Actually we’ve touched on this before, yesterday’s pitchers were no more conditioned for a heavier workload than today’s pitchers. It’s simply the reporting side-effect: Most injured young players never got the opportunity to have TJ or were never diagnosed in the first place and they withered away forgotten by MLB before they were even 30 with “dead arm”.

        As always, it takes exceptional individuals to be able to carry a heavy workload. That was as true 40-50 years ago as it is today.

  8. sincitybonobo - Oct 7, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Bad move. I take my chances with Nolasco vs. Garcia and- worst case scenario- have CK on 6 days rest in Atlanta. Kershaw threw 120 pitches last start. LA needs one win in this series. I’d take a 50% chance with Nolasco today, in exchange for a much higher % with a fully rested Kershaw on Wednesday. Brenly did the same thing with Schilling in 2001 against the Yanks. Even if LA wins today, this is not the smartest approach.

    • sincitybonobo - Oct 7, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      5 days rest, that is. His ERA is below 2 for his career in such situations. 1st ever start on 3 would be today.

  9. losangelesfan - Oct 7, 2013 at 6:18 PM

    This is all part of Ned Colletti’s evil plan to steal Girardi from the Yankees. Mattingly, who should be a Yankee anyway, will have this blow up in his face. Italian’s make the best managers. Damn you, Ned.

  10. byjiminy - Oct 7, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    I’d much rather use Kershaw in this series only if I have to. And there’s a great chance they wouldn’t have to.

    Wouldn’t you rather have the option of starting him in game 1, 4, and 7, on full rest, than run him out there all fatigued? For what? If they really can’t handle Garcia, they can always use Kershaw in game 5 on full rest, rather than game 4, sore. Wouldn’t you rather pitch him at his best?

    I do see the benefit of swapping a start by Nolasco for a start by Greinke. But that’s counterbalanced somewhat by swapping Kershaw on full rest for Kershaw on short rest. And, even you do gain the benefit of starting Greinke in this series, and he wins it for you, then you start the LCS with BOTH Kershaw and Greinke gone! Whereas if you start Nolasco, you have a 50-50 chance or more of having them BOTH available for games 1 and 2! That’s huge!

    The goal is to win a World Series, not just make the LCS. Sure, you don’t make the LCS unless you win the LDS. It just seems like way too big a price to pay, to make your ace pitch at less than his best, risking injury and defeat, while also squandering a 50-50 chance of having him ready for game 1 on full rest.

    I’m not saying it’s totally crazy. If it works, Greinke pitches game 1, 4, and 7, and they’ll still have Kershaw pitch twice. But I really hope it doesn’t, they trash their staff but beat the Braves anyway, and then get beaten up by the Pirates! Yeah!

    • byjiminy - Oct 8, 2013 at 1:13 AM

      Whew, glad I got that comment in just in time for Kershaw to make a fool of me!

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