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.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.