LOS ANGELES -- Manager Don Mattingly won't say it, but it's becoming increasingly clear that if the Dodgers lose to the Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS on Sunday night, they will turn to ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest rather than scheduled starter Ricky Nolasco.
Mattingly on Saturday said Nolasco was his Game 4 starter and repeated the mantra on Sunday, with the same caveat allowing for wiggle room.
"Right now Ricky is the pitcher in Game 4," Mattingly said. "That's what we've decided. Right now, Ricky is the pitcher."
It's the "right now" that leaves room for speculation. Clayton Kershaw threw a bullpen session on Saturday and would be ready to pitch on Monday night if needed. It would be the first time Kershaw has ever started on three days rest.
I think the reason Mattingly won't publicly acknowledge the possibility of Kershaw starting Game 4 is because it's not in his nature to do so. The Dodgers would only turn to Kershaw if down 2-1, giving them their two best pitchers in a pair of must win games, with Zack Greinke on full rest in Wednesday's Game 5 in Atlanta.
For Mattingly to acknowledge a Kershaw start, that would require him to think about losing Game 3, something the positive-thinking Mattingly almost never does.
Nolasco, for his part, wants to start in Game 4 but understands the situation.
"This isn't about me, this is about the team," Nolasco said. "They are the ones who get paid to make those decisions. I'll be here ready to take the ball whenever they ask me to pitch."
I think it really as simple as this: if the Dodgers win Sunday, Nolasco starts Monday night; if not, it's Kershaw in Game 4.
That's the feeling I get right now.