LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly continued on Saturday to assert that Ricky Nolasco would start Game 4 of the NLDS, even if the Dodgers trail in the series, rather than use ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest. But given the tone of the answer Mattingly gave himself an out should he decide to change his mind.
"We haven't really thought about that," Mattingly said on Saturday. "Well, I shouldn't say we haven't thought about it because you're always going to have to think about everything."
A win in Game 3 on Sunday would lessen the need in Game 4 to use Kershaw, who has never in his career started on three days rest. Mattingly generally conveys a positive message, so perhaps he is simply refusing to publicly divulge the thought of losing Game 3.
"Right now we're scheduled with Ricky and that's the way we're going to go," Mattingly said. "Obviously you're going to go through every scenario but we're looking at Ricky in Game 4."
Nolasco was arguably the best in-season pitching acquisition in baseball in 2013, and was 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA after the Dodgers acquired him from the Marlins on July 6. But in his last three starts he allowed 19 runs in 12 innings and hit three batters, the latter matching his total in his other 12 starts with Los Angeles.
The unique schedule of a five-game series with two travel days allows the Dodgers, if they so choose, to use Kershaw on short rest in Game 4 then follow up with Zack Greinke in Game 5 on a full four days rest. It would be an intriguing option for the Dodgers if they need to win two straight games, to use their two best pitchers back to back.
"If the opportunity presented itself, I'm definitely not opposed to it," Kershaw said on Wednesday.
As for the Dodgers on Monday, well Sunday night will go a long way in determining that.