Clayton Kershaw will start Game 4 for the Dodgers tonight. (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images )
Rick Honeycutt lied. Ricky Nolasco won’t start Game 4 of the National League division series Monday, as the Dodgers pitching coach said the night before. Clayton Kershaw will.
Kershaw will be starting on three-days’ rest for the first time in his career as the Dodgers attempt to close out the best-of-five series against the Atlanta Braves.
The Dodgers aren’t taking any chances; the decision to start Kershaw on short rest was probably based on Nolasco’s atrocious late-season form. Nolasco was 8-1 with a 2.07 earned-run average in his first dozen starts with the Dodgers, who acquired him in a July trade with the Miami Marlins. But Nolasco appeared to run out of gas at the end, as his final three starts lasted a combined 12 innings. His ERA in those games: 12.75.
If the Dodgers lose Game 4 and are forced to return to Atlanta, they would have co-ace Zack Greinke available to start the series finale Wednesday.
If the Dodgers win Game 4, Greinke would be in line to pitch Game 1 of the NL Championship Series. Kershaw could pitch Game 2.
Honeycutt said after the Dodgers’ win on Sunday night that Nolasco would start Game 4.
"He's our future," Honeycutt said. "You don't want to mess around with it."
So, either there was a dramatic shift in organizational philosophy, or, more likely, Honeycutt lied.
Kershaw held the Braves to a run over seven innings in the Dodgers’ Game 1 victory. He threw 124 pitches.
Nolasco said Sunday that he would understand if the Dodgers started Kershaw in his place.
“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 one 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.”