Mattingly’s One Big Move Makes No Sense

With the Dodgers’ in the driver’s seat in the Division Series against the Braves, leading two games to one and with tonight’s game at Dodgers’ Stadium, the empty uniform non-manager Don Mattingly has made perhaps the biggest decision of his Dodgers’ career, moving Clayton Kershaw up a day in the rotation, starting him on short rest for the first time ever, and bypassing Ricky Nolasco. Not the right move on so many fronts.

Even should Kershaw lead the team to victory, that would not make up for the potential long range damage the move may cause. Kershaw is the most valuable piece of pitching property in baseball, a guy with dominant stuff who mastered the “art” of pitching before his 23d birthday, and who at 25, already with a streak of leading baseball three consecutive years in lowest ERA, has an unlimited future before him. But he has NEVER started on three days rest, as he will tonight.



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Tonight’s start would also see him coming back after a game in which he made 124 pitches.

The Dodgers’ have a lot going for them in tonight’s game. The team is hitting, even without Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and there is no hotter hitter anywhere than Hanley Ramirez, and along with Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Juan Uribe, and the rest, the team should score tonight, especially against the guy the Braves’ have chosen to make the start for them, 37-year-old Freddy Garcia, who last stared a playoff

game in 2006. Since 2006, Garcia has bounced around from Philadelphia to Detroit to the Chicago White Sox to the New York Yankees to Baltimore to the Braves, compiling a 40-37 record with a 4.59 ERA. He started all of three games for the Braves this past season, winning one.

There is no need to risk the franchise pitcher bringing him back early. Just two or three weeks ago, Nolasco was THE hot pitcher, and there was talk of him getting playoff start number three, ahead of Hyun Jin-Ryu. In 15 starts for the Dodgers after his acquisition from Miami, Nolasco was 8-3, including his winning his first seven decisions.
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Granted, he did not finish the regular season strong, but he proved his worth over several weeks down the stretch, and showing faith in him is also important as should the Dodgers’ win the Division Series and go on to the Championship Series and maybe the World Series, they will need Nolasco, and the Nolasco they need is a self-assured pitcher who feels that the team has confidence in him.

Were Nolasco to start tonight and lose, then a fully rested Kershaw would be ready for the series finale on Wednesday, and were he to lead the Dodgers to a win, Zack Greinke would be ready to start the opening game of the next series. Sounds like a no-brainer.

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