2013 NLDS Game 4: So It’s Clayton Kershaw

October 7, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Posted in 2013 NLDS, Game Threads | Leave a comment

Lesson learned: Never, ever trust a public statement made by a baseball official. Despite what pitching coach Rick Honeycutt had said, Ricky Nolasco will not get the start today. Instead, Clayton Kershaw goes on short rest for the first time in his career.

This is both what I feared would happen ans expected might happen, for all the reasons we outlined earlier. I don’t like testing Kershaw on three days rest, I prefer setting him up for NLCS Game 1, I worry now about starting Nolasco in the NLCS after weeks of rest, and this introduces the non-zero risk of
Hyun-jin Ryu starting that first NLCS game if things go poorly tonight.

Braves
Dodgers
CF
Heyward
LF
Crawford
RF
J.Upton
2B
M.Ellis
1B
Freeman
SS
Ramirez
LF
Gattis
1B
Gonzalez
C
McCann
RF
Puig
3B
C.Johhnson
3B
Uribe
SS
Simmons
CF
Schmukaer
2B
E.Johnson
C
A.Ellis
P
Garcia
P
Kershaw

But while I don’t love it, I do get it. There was real reason not to like this matchup for Nolasco, who after allowing two runs or fewer in 10 of his first 12 Dodger starts — and no more than three runs in all of those starts — then gave up five, six, and five in his final three starts of the year.

The first of those was a particular disaster, since he lasted only 1.1 innings against the Giants at home in Dodger Stadium. With Chris Capuano all but certainly unavailable tonight after throwing 46 pitches in relief of Ryu last night, and Paco Rodriguez likely either unavailable (25 pitches) or just undesirable (looked bad, gave up a long homer) and J.P. Howell maybe available but limited after 24 pitches, the Dodgers risked a short start with no long man available, a role Nolasco can now fill.

Also not exactly working in Nolasco’s favor — and you know I don’t like to use pitcher-vs-batter stats, so the fact that I am here should tell you how overwhelming this is — is that Brian McCann simply owns Nolasco in a way that’s just not right. In 61 plate appearances, McCann has a line of .345/361/.828, including eight — eight! — homers.

Now sure, a lot of that came back in 2008 and 2009, which may not be super relevant in 2013 since each are very different players. But the last two times they’ve faced — in Nolasco’s final start with Miami in July, and last July 31 — McCann has taken Nolasco deep.

So again, I get it. It’s just really risky, and if Kershaw doesn’t respond well tonight after throwing over 120 pitches three days ago, it could backfire terribly. Here’s to hoping I get to see a clincher at the park tonight.

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