Before Game 3 on Sunday, many wondered if the Dodgers were to face elimination in Game 4 (they are not), would they use Clayton Kershaw on short rest over scheduled starter Ricky Nolasco. This way they would have their best pitcher on the mound to try and extend their season one more game.
Well the Dodgers are not facing elimination after Sunday's 13-6 victory in Game 3, but they are still throwing Kershaw. It was a surprising announcement, but the Dodgers are throwing down the gauntlet.
They want to win the NLDS, and they want to do it on Monday in Los Angeles.
Should they be gambling on Kershaw, pitching for the first time in his career on three days rest? Or should they rely on Ricky Nolasco, who has more than enough rest (one inning pitched since September 25), but had a miserable end to the season (19 earned runs in 25.2 innings)?
After the Game 3 victory, it seemed a given that Nolasco would be pitching so that Kershaw would be lined up to start NLCS Game 1, or NLDS Game 5 in Atlanta on full rest, if necessary.
Don Mattingly never did commit fully to Nolasco though. On Sunday he said multiple times that Nolasco was scheduled to pitch, "right now," but never elaborated beyond that.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, on the other hand, was adamant that his Game 1 starter Kris Medlen would not be used on short rest in Monday's game. "Yeah, its (Freddy) Garcia. Yeah, it's Garcia," he said with conviction.
So here are the Dodgers with a 2-1 series lead. They need just one more win to advance to the NLCS. Everyone knows that Kershaw is awesome, but this decision appears to show how little faith the Dodgers have in Nolasco.
If the Dodgers used Nolasco, and won, they would have the Kershaw-Greinke combo available to start the NLCS. With Kershaw starting Game 4, he will likely pitch Game 2 instead.
A loss means that Greinke has to start Game 5 in Atlanta. That would leave the Dodgers without either of their top starters in Game 1 of the NLCS, if they advance.
This is definitely an interesting piece of news to start the day off with, and it changes the dynamic of the end of this series. The Dodgers have shown they are not messing around in Game 4, will Atlanta counter with their top starter, Medlen, or leave in scheduled starter Freddy Garcia?