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.
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.
The Dodgers only need one more win to clinch the NL pennant and advance to a World Series showdown against the Red Sox, but they might not get that chance tonight. Following David Freese‘s leadoff home run off of Milwaukee left-hander Wade Miley, the Brewers erupted for four runs in the bottom of the first inning to take the lead.
In his second start of the NLCS, Dodgers’ southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu had a two-on, two-out situation when Jesus Aguilar came up to the plate in the first inning. Aguilar worked a 2-1 count against Ryu, then lashed a two-run line drive double to right field, bringing both Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun home to score. In the next at-bat, Mike Moustakas drove in Aguilar with a first-pitch double to right, while Erik Kratz‘s RBI single topped off the Brewers’ four-run spread to give them an early 4-1 advantage.
Ryu didn’t get a reprieve for long. In the second, Christian Yelich and Braun went back-to-back with another pair of doubles to advance the Brewers 5-1 above their National League rivals. The lefty was pulled after just three innings of seven-hit, five-run, three-strikeout ball — per MLB.com’s Bill Shaikin, it marked just the second time the 31-year-old had given up four or more runs in a start this season.
The Dodgers started to work their way back in the fifth inning: Freese returned with an RBI double that plated Brian Dozier, who scooted around from first and easily beat the tag at the plate to score the Dodgers’ second run of the night. Together, the teams have combined for five doubles in five innings. The Brewers still lead in the fifth, 5-2.