Ricky Nolasco scheduled to start Game 4 of NLCS…for now

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Dodgers manager Don Mattingly indicated earlier today that he could skip Ricky Nolasco and go with Zack Greinke on short rest if his team was facing elimination tomorrow, but it sounds like the idea isn’t dead even after Monday’s Game 3 victory over the Cardinals.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Nolasco is currently scheduled to start Game 4 and oppose Lance Lynn. However, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times notes that Mattingly continues to say that’s the plan “right now,” which could be a sign that things are subject to change. You see, Mattingly used the same “right now” description before he skipped Nolasco in favor of using Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Braves last week. Don’t be surprised if we see another last-minute change.

Nolasco posted a 3.70 ERA and 165/46 K/BB ratio over 199 1/3 innings during the regular season, but struggled to the tune of a 6.66 ERA over his final six outings. He hasn’t pitched since a relief appearance on September 29.

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.