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Clayton Kershaw decision a group effort

Kershaw is making the first start of his career on three days rest.

Scott Cunningham

LOS ANGELES -- The decision to start Clayton Kershaw on three days rest Monday night in Game 4 against the Braves was a decision with several weeks of planning. The choice ultimately was made by committee, and Kershaw might have been the loudest voice of that group.

"After Game 1, he was barking right after the game that he was ready for Game 4," manager Don Mattingly said on Monday. "We're like no, no, no, no, no. Let's see where you're at tomorrow. Let's see how you're doing. Then really that process was ust a matter of waiting things out to see if he kind of responded to everything and how he was feeling, and then really making sure one last time that he was a hundred percent with it.

"Because if it was something that he wasn't a hundred percent with, and really everyone wasn't with, we wouldn't do this. So That's how it came about."

The plan was hatched once the Dodgers clinched the division and were able to lay out their schedule heading into the postseason. Mattingly, Kershaw, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, general manager Ned Colletti and his staff were all involved in the decision-making process. The choice was made on Sunday night before the players left Dodger Stadium.

"[Kershaw] works so hard to get to this position and to be in this game. That's why you do extra work. That's why we protect him all year long," Mattingly said. "We protect our guys all year long to be able to get them in position when you have a chance to do something."

CEO Stan Kasten said he was not a part of the process but that he supported the move.

"If the manager and coaches make a decision that they feel is best for the team, then I'm all in with both feet," Kasten said.

Kershaw threw 124 pitches in Game 1, and while he won't be on a pitch limit in Game 4 the team will monitor him closely.

"Around Clayton day in and day out, his physical preparation is great. He's become a guy to make adjustments to the situation," Honeycutt said. "There will be a lot of focus on his innings tonight. Like last game, it was batter to batter there. ... It will depend on the situation in the game, and the situation with Kershaw."

Kershaw was tabbed to start over Ricky Nolasco, who allowed 19 runs in his last three starts, over 12 innings. Mattingly was asked would he have started Kershaw in Game 4 had Nolasco pitched better down the stretch.

"I don't think this has anything to do with Ricky," Mattingly said. "It's really more to do with Clayton and Zack."

Zack Greinke is the key component to the strategy of starting Kershaw in Game 4, as he will be available to pitch either in Game 5 in Atlanta or in Game 1 of the NLCS.

"If you save everything for one game, I think I'd question myself a lot more when you have two aces and if you don't play them both," Mattingly said. "We've got two chances if something doesn't work out the way we want it to tonight, then we're sitting with an ace in Game 5."