LOS ANGELES -- On the eve of the biggest game of his career, in the stadium he always envisioned pitching a playoff game, Ricky Nolasco learned it wasn’t going to happen.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he informed Nolasco Sunday night that the team was turning to Clayton Kershaw on three days’ rest to pitch Game 4 against the Atlanta Braves. If the series goes five games, the Dodgers would hand the ball to Zack Greinke.
“I don’t think this has anything to do with Ricky,” Mattingly said. “It’s really more to do with Clayton and Zack.”
Nolasco retreated to the clubhouse before the Dodgers completed batting practice and wasn’t available for comment, but he sounded OK with the decision when asked about it Sunday afternoon.
“This isn’t about me,” Nolasco said. “This is about the team.”
That clearly is true, but if the Dodgers advance to the league championship series, they might have some pitching issues beyond Greinke and Kershaw. Nolasco had a 12.75 ERA in his last three starts, and he hasn’t started since Sept. 25. Hyun-Jin Ryu lasted only three innings Sunday, and he appears to have some nagging physical ailments.
A lot is riding on Monday’s outcome. If the Dodgers win, Kershaw would be available to pitch Game 2 of the NLCS, with Greinke leading it off.
“Obviously, we know what it does if we’re able to take care of our business tonight,” Mattingly said. “But this is not a time to look ahead.”