LOS ANGELES -- The decision to start Clayton Kershaw on three days' rest for the first time in his career Monday night was all about Kershaw's wishes and having Zack Greinke as a backup plan, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
"After Game 1, [Kershaw] was barking right after the game that he was ready for Game 4," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers were certain they would start Kershaw on short rest if Monday were an elimination game for them, but even after beating the Atlanta Braves 13-6 Sunday night, Mattingly, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and general manager Ned Colletti made the call to bring back Kershaw.
Mattingly said they informed Ricky Nolasco, who was scheduled to pitch, that they were going with Kershaw.
Kershaw threw 124 pitches over seven innings in a 6-1 Dodgers victory in Game 1, striking out 12 batters and allowing just three hits. If the series returns to Atlanta for Game 5, the Dodgers will go with Greinke on his normal four days' rest. Greinke was 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA this season. He took the loss in Game 2, but allowed just two runs in six innings.
"Honestly, if you save everything for one game, I would question myself a lot more, if you've got two aces and you don't play them both," Mattingly said. "We've got two chances. If something doesn't work out the way we want it tonight, then we're sitting with an ace in Game 5."
Nolasco endured a rough stretch to end the regular season, going 0-2 with a 12.75 ERA in his final three starts.
"Whatever decision they make is going to be the best decision for the team," Nolasco said before the announcement was made. "So I'm with whatever. They're the ones who get paid to make those decisions. So I'll be here ready to take the ball whenever they ask me to pitch."
Freddy Garcia will start for the Braves.