Change of plans! Dodgers decide to start Clayton Kershaw in Game 4 on short rest

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UPDATE: So much for that. Despite pitching coach Rick Honeycutt telling reporters that the Dodgers would save Clayton Kershaw for a potential Game 5 start and go with Ricky Nolasco tonight, the team just announced that the Cy Young winner-to-be will indeed be taking the mound tonight in an effort to finish the Braves.

As noted below, this will be the first short-rest start of Kershaw’s entire career, regular season or playoffs, and he threw 124 pitches Thursday.  However, it also means that if the Dodgers lose tonight they could have Zack Greinke available on full rest for Game 5.

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With a 2-1 lead in the NLDS the Dodgers are sticking with Ricky Nolasco as their Game 4 starter tonight against the Braves rather than turning back to Clayton Kershaw on short rest.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers were thinking about using Kershaw in Game 4 if they were facing elimination, but instead they blew out the Braves in Game 3.

Atlanta must now win a game started by Kershaw to win the series, so Los Angeles might as well let him take the mound on full rest, especially since he might not be needed at all and could then be fresh for Game 1 of the NLCS.

Also of note: Kershaw has started 183 career games and none of them have come on short rest. He’s made 103 starts on four days’ rest, 61 starts on five days’ rest, and 18 starts on six or more days’ rest. And in those 18 extra-rest starts Kershaw has a 1.91 ERA.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.