PHOENIX -- With Clayton Kershaw getting three extra days rest, the Dodgers rearranged their starting rotation in preparation for the playoffs. Even if manager Don Mattingly doesn't even like to talk about it publicly, yet.
"We're talking about playoffs. I'd rather win tonight," Mattingly said before Tuesday's game against the Diamondbacks. "I haven't thought that far, I'm just trying to get a win."
The Dodgers have a magic number of four to clinch the National League West over the Diamondbacks, and Tuesday's starter Zack Greinke will remain on regular rest to pitch the series finale in San Diego on Sunday, one day after Kershaw. That lines them up in order to start Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS, which begin on Thursday, Oct. 3.
"That would be a benefit of this, yes," Mattingly said with a smirk. "By lucky chance."
After Monday's off day, Hyun-Jin Ryu will start the series opener in San Francisco, followed by Ricky Nolasco, who will start Thursday's series finale this week against the Diamondbacks. There would still be plenty of time for the Dodgers to manipulate the order of Ryu and Nolasco if they so choose, as Game 3 of the NLDS is Sunday, Oct. 6, a full week after the regular season ends.
The decision to push Kershaw back three extra days is something that has been brewing for some time, including conversations with general manager Ned Colletti.
"We've been talking about with Kersh as the year's been going on, every time out he's going seven, eight, nine innings. I know Ned is concerned, and the whole organization talked about how to keep his innings down. We knew at some point we wanted to give him a break," Mattingly said. "We knew he was only going to get two more starts the rest of the year, and this felt like the right time."
Kershaw has pitched 223 innings this season, 10 shy of his career high, with more postseason innings looming.
"I don't think I need it. But I'm not going to argue about it," Kershaw said, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
"[Kershaw] fought us a little bit, but I think he knows that we're trying to take care of him," Mattingly added.
- Carl Crawford, out since Saturday with tightness in his back, might be available to pinch hit on Tuesday night. "Carl is better. He's going to be able to hit on the field tonight. He threw a little bit yesterday and feels better today," Mattingly said.
- Andre Ethier is still in a walking boot, but also hit via soft toss Monday and Tuesday. His ankle is getting better but he isn't particularly close to returning to the field. "Carl may be able to play tomorrow. I can't tell you Dre will be able to play tomorrow," Mattingly said. "I don't feel like it's going to be 10 days. I'm not sure when it will be but I do know it's getting better. He's been able to do more stuff."
- Mattingly on the decision to put Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp in the lineup: "Hanley we felt pretty good about yesterday. I knew once he was hitting off a tee, he was going to be able to swing. Matt was a little bit of a surprise, the way he round the bases he wasn't hesitant. That's all we needed to hear."