Why Ricky Nolasco should start Game 4

The health of Hanley Ramirez remains the biggest concern for the Dodgers in their comeback attempt at the National League Championship Series, but they also face a much-anticipated decision regarding Tuesday’s starting pitcher.

Remaining NLCS schedule
Game 4: 5:07 p.m. Tuesday
Game 5: 1:07 p.m. Wednesday
Game 6 (if necessary): 5:37 p.m. Friday
Game 7 (if necessary): 5:37 p.m. Saturday

If the Dodgers start Ricky Nolasco in their next game against Lance Lynn, even if they lose, they would take their shots in the next three games with fully rested starters Zack Greinke against Joe Kelly, Clayton Kershaw against Michael Wacha and Hyun-Jin Ryu against Adam Wainwright. That’s still a nervewracking scenario, but things could be worse.

If the Dodgers skip Nolasco, that would signify a strategy of using Greinke and Kershaw on three days’ rest (and limited pitch counts) in Games 4 and 5, followed by the need to still push Nolasco out there in Game 6 – against Wacha in the less friendly confines of Busch Stadium. And through every game, there would be more pressure on the Dodgers’ middle relief.

Doesn’t the choice seem clear here?

Dodger fans have reason to be wary of Nolasco after his rough end of the regular season, but there’s almost no chance they go to the World Series without getting something out of him in the NLCS. Given that he is a better pitcher than he showed in his final three starts of September – and that he had a 2.48 ERA and .580 opponents’ OPS in Dodger Stadium this year – I don’t see why Nolasco shouldn’t start Game 4.

The return of Ryu to form tonight and the possibility that his work from the left side could still be a weapon (even in a Game 7), combined with the advantage of having Greinke and Kershaw on full rest, should provide all the assurance the Dodgers need to think long-term about this series and start Nolasco in Game 4.

Now, if Ramirez is able to get out of bed Tuesday, that would be nice, too.

  • foul tip


    Cards’ team BA still in the .130s? Or did it drop?

    • GoDodgersFromWisconsin

      4 hits and 27 outs today is a .129, so it might have come down slightly, depending on *where* in the .130s it was.

      • btimmer

        The Cardinals were at .134 starting the game.

        • btimmer

          And they are still at .134 as they went 4 for 30 tonight, which works out to .134.

          They are 13 for 97.

  • ASW1

    Completely agree with all this.

  • GoDodgersFromWisconsin

    Bingo. The longer you wait to give Nolasco his first playoff start, the higher the leverage. At least in Game 4, you can be assured that it’s not an elimination game. If he loses, the Dodgers can come back to play game 5 and try to force games 6 and 7.

    If he wins, he’s been blooded, and you’ve got a best-of-3 with Greinke, Kershaw, and Ryu lined up.

    If you push him back, it’s either to game 5 if Greinke wins game 4 (to save Kershaw for St. Louis), or to Game 6 on the road, a potential clincher or elimination game. The whole thing with going Greinke/Kershaw in games 1 and 2 was supposed to be to allow Ryu and Nolasco to pitch in friendly territory. Pushing Nolasco into a potential St. Louis start for his first postseason action seems problematic. Especially when he hasn’t seen live action in two weeks.

    The smart decision is Nolasco in game 4. What Mattingly’s decision is remains to be seen.

  • leekfink

    No. You use Greinke in Game 4 and then ideally Nolasco in Game 5.* If we can pull the wins out at home, we go back to St. Louis with Kershaw pitching a close-out Game 6 on regular (actually, plus one) rest, with the goal of avoiding Wainwright at home. That also allows you to go back to Greinke in Game 7 on short rest if necessary (with Ryu and Johnny All-Staff backing him up in the Bullpen)

    This makes sense. It’s not really about Nolasco or Ryu. It’s about the fact that we have the two best pitchers in the National League (or at least two of the best 7 pitchers in the league). If we have our backs to the wall (and we kind of do), and they can do it physically (Greinke seems able, and did not work that hard in Game 1), it is really hard to justify NOT using them 5 games in a 7 game series.

    *I would not use Kershaw in Game 5, win or lose Game 4, because of the reasons you suggest (short-rest, pressure on middle relief, knowing that you have to rely on Nolasco in less friendly confines). But also, most importantly, there is no percentage in it. While pitching Greinke in Game 4, it gives him a chance to come back for a possible Game 7. But by putting Kershaw on three days rest, we won’t get an additional start out of him, and to win the series we still need a win from Nolasco, be it in Game 5 at home or Game 6 on the road. But if we lose Game 4, it will be really hard for Mattingly not to use Kershaw. The nightmare scenario for any manager would be to be eliminated with your ace (and the best pitcher in baseball) sitting on the bench, after having a really easy 72 pitch, 6-inning outing three days before. I don’t think he should do it, but if we lose Game 4, I would not be surprised if it happened.

    • GoDodgersFromWisconsin

      Disagree. Game 4 is the lowest-leverage start remaining that you can give Nolasco. That is, by definition, the best time to give him his first postseason action. The stakes just get higher from here on out.

      • leekfink

        It’s not about Nolasco! Who gives a crap about when Nolasco starts and the “leverage” for the particular game. If this series goes 7 games, we are going to need Nolasco to pitch once. The difference is that if he pitches in Game 5 instead of Game 4, we get to have Greinke pitch 3 times instead of two. So, the question is do we prefer 3 starts from Greinke, 2 starts from Kershaw, 1 start from Ryu and 1 start from Nolasco or 2 starts from Greinke, 2 from Kershaw, 2 from Ryu, and 1 from Nolasco.
        No matter how good Ryu was tonight (and he was brilliant), I would trade a Ryu start for a Greinke start any day of the week and twice on Sunday. And that’s the decision that the Dodgers face in determining the Game 4 starter.

        • Robert

          You are pitching Greinke on 3 days rest in both game 4 and game 7. that is asking for a little too much IMO.

          • ASW1

            It’s completely unnecessary – panic driven micromanaging.

          • leekfink

            Hershiser pitched Game 3 of the 1988 NLCS on 3 days rest, pitched in relief in Game 4 on 0 days rest, pitched Game 7 of the NLCS on 2 days rest (or 3 if you ignore the Game 4 Save), pitched Game 2 of the World Series on 3 days rest, and pitched the Game 5 of the World Series on 2 days rest. His line for that stretch–all on 3 Games of rest or less–3-0, 1 S, 5 G, 4 GS, 3 CG, 34 1/3 IP, 3 R, 3 ER, for an ERA of 0.79.

            Fine, Hershiser was superhuman (though, arguably Greinke is too). Tim Belcher (a rookie) pitched Game 4 of the World Series on 3 days rest, giving up 2 ER in 6 2/3 innings, and earning the win.

            Curt Schilling started Games 4 and 7 of the 2001 World Series on 3 days rest, going 14 1/3 innings and giving up 2 ER.

            These are just the examples off the top of my head (obviously, I looked up the Schilling and Belcher stats, though I knew Hershiser’s). That was not too much to ask of them. It’s like Kershaw said before Game 4 of the NLDS–this is what you work for. This is why you count pitches during the regular season. This is why you don’t pitch on 3 day’s rest during the regular season. This is why you get guys like Edinson Volquez or Stephen Fife to make starts in September. So that when you need them in the Post-season to come out on 3-days rest, when you need them to pitch in big games, to try to win our first pennant in 25 years (and first World Championship in 25 years), they are ready. It makes no sense to sign Zack Greinke for $147 Million and then think that it’s OK to have a rookie lined-up to pitch a winner-take-all game for the National League Pennant.

          • PismoBruce

            How much of that overuse contributed to Hershiser’s shoulder surgery, from which he was never the same again? Nolasco in Game 4.

          • dalegribel

            We’ll never know, but when someone uses the expression “I’d give my right arm” Hershiser may have actually done it.

          • leekfink

            Hershiser was the same again. In fact, in 1989, he was almost exactly the same, with a 2.31 ERA (2.26 in 1988) and identical 149 ERA+, identical 178K. The only difference is that the team basically did not score for him and he only went 15-15, rather than 23-8.

            Yes, obviously, Hershiser’s arm blew out in 1990. But that was not because of a few starts on short rest. That is more about pitching more than 250 innings per year for three straight seasons (plus the 43+ innings in the 1988 post-season), and often getting pitch counts over 150.

            But remember, Hershiser is not the only example. Belcher that year. Schilling several times in 2001. There is a whole USA Today article from 2009 titled “History shows pitching on three days’ rest not unusual .” http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/2009-10-29-shortrest_N.htm

        • GoDodgersFromWisconsin

          Because as long as Nolasco is on the playoff roster, he’s the most likely person to pitch if you’re not going to go into a short-rest rotation for Greinke, Kershaw and Ryu. He’s never pitched in the postseason before, which means his next postseason start will be his first.

          If you want him to win a game for the Dodgers, that means putting him in a position to be successful. Neither an elimination game against the Cards or a World Series game against the AL representative are going to be a better time to “blood” him than Game 4. Pitch him in Game 4. If he pitches well and LA wins, not only is the series even, but you have Greinke and Kershaw going on full rest with Ryu backing them up in Game 7.

          If he struggles, he hasn’t had the jitters in his first start in potentially the last game of the season.

          It’s not about Nolasco. You’re right. It’s about what’s best for the team, and what’s best for the team is for Nolasco to pitch Game 4.

          • leekfink

            I don’t know what it means to “blood” him. I assume that it must mean “be prepared for him to stink up the joint and then pick up the pieces after that.” That does not make much sense to me.
            Yes, the entire purpose of pitching Greinke in Game 4 is to be prepared to pitch him in a Game 7. That is correct. That’s why it really has nothing to do with Nolasco. He can pitch in Game 5 and be “blooded” all you want.

          • GoDodgersFromWisconsin

            How about “give him his first taste of postseason blood.” I thought that might have been obvious, but…

            Look. Here’s the problem with your analysis:

            You don’t trust Nolasco in Game 4. That’s obvious from how you jumped straight to “be prepared for him to stink up the joint.” One either believes he’s the pitcher who was brilliant for his first dozen starts as a Dodger, or the one who struggled in his last couple, and you’re clearly in the latter camp.

            Now, we’ve already had starts from both Greinke and Kershaw this series where the starting pitcher was brilliant and got nothing for his trouble. It’s not inconceivable that could happen again with a Greinke start in Game 4. So if that happens and he loses 1-0, you’ve effectively locked the rotation into short rest for the duration of the series, unless you’re willing to argue that you trust Nolasco in an elimination Game 5 in ways you don’t trust him in a 1-2 series in Game 4.

            It’s wishful thinking. You’re looking at the example of Hershiser and saying “Well, if he can do it, there’s no reason Greinke, Kershaw, and Ryu can’t all three do it, also.”

            Secondly, let’s look at Kershaw’s start on 3 days rest in the NLDS. It was pretty good! However, in going for the knockout blow with Kershaw in Game 4 instead of trusting Nolasco, Mattingly accomplished two things:

            1) Prevented the series from going to back to Atlanta, true.
            2) Ensured that Kershaw could only make two starts in the NLCS, unless he was willing to commit to Kershaw on short rest for the first game of the NLCS, also, and thus preserve the possibility of him making at least four straight starts on short rest.

            That he didn’t do that suggests to me that Mattingly, at least for now, sees short rest starting as something for extraordinary circumstances, and I don’t think Game 4 at home qualifies. Start Nolasco in Game 4, with the bullpen ready to back him up thanks to Ryu’s start last night, go Greinke and Kershaw on full rest in Games 5 and, hopefully, 6. If you win all three of those games, you have a pennant, you haven’t endangered the health of your two best pitchers, and you’ve got 5 days before the World Series to allow Kershaw to start game 1 on regular rest and, yes, lineup to pitch games 1, 4 and, if necessary, 7.

          • leekfink

            I can’t disagree more. First, I don’t really trust Nolasco–who does? He’s the Fourth starter going against an offense that made the NLCS. Of course you wouldn’t trust him. But read what I said. Whether I trust Nolasco or not, that is totally beside the point. Nolasco should start Game 5 whether or not we win or lose! Because if we are going to win the pennant, it will take 6 or 7 games, and he will have to pitch in one of them. But it’s about setting up the pitchers in the rest of the series–which means giving the most chances to Kershaw and Greinke. Then, Nolasco can be “blooded” in Game 5 (if that matters). (Though, I admit, if Greinke starts and we lose, Mattingly will be tempted to use Kershaw on 3-days rest. I would not really agree with that move. To win, we will need to pitch Nolasco, and since we cannot squeeze an extra start out of him, it’s probably best to wait and use him in Game 6.)
            You’re right about the results in Game 1 and 2. Count Game 3 too. 3 of the best 6 pitchers in the National League (and maybe the 3 best pitchers in the National League) have all started the first three games of the NLCS, they have all pitched very well, and they are 0-2, and their teams have lost each game. That’s why baseball is a great game–you never know what will happen (as if saying that on today’s anniversary is not obvious). But that does not mean that you expect that to be reversed–you still play the percentages and put forward your best chances, and hope/expect that in the long-run, the best players win out.
            And I am not looking at just Hershiser–see my earlier post. I knew about Belcher (never a Cy Young caliber pitcher) and Schilling in 2001 (also not a Cy Young winner, but good, though still the secondary pitcher on that team). And the USA Today article points out that it is not uncommon. I expect top pitchers to be able to go on three-day’s rest in the post-season when it’s needed to win a championship. If Hanley Ramirez can play with a broken rib. . . .
            You also TOTALLY misunderstand why Kershaw pitched in Game 4 of the NLDS. Avoiding going back to Atlanta for Game 5 was only a secondary reason. The main reason was to allow Greinke to pitch in Game 5, if necessary. What we did was line-up the rotation so instead of having Nolasco/Kershaw, we had Kershaw/Greinke. Would you take Zack Greinke for Ricky Nolasco in a trade straight-up? Always. 101 times out of 100. We always knew that there is a possibility that Kershaw might not win–there is the very rare game when he blows up, and there are plenty of games where we don’t score for him. Indeed, until Uribe failed to get the bunt down, we were almost in that same position. But because we had Greinke, we had two solid chances to wrap up the series.
            The results that you explain for the Kershaw start in Game 4 of the NLDS also do not make sense. You said that starting Kershaw in Game 4 meant that we were not able to give him more than two starts in the NLCS. But if you are unwilling to use Greinke on 3-day’s rest, I don’t understand why you are willing to use Kershaw on three-days rest. And the only way that Kershaw, even as a Game 1 starter, goes 3 times in the NLCS would have been if he were the Game 1 starter and Game 7 was delayed by rain twice (while no other game was delayed). That’s just incredibly unlikely. Even if you are willing to use Kershaw on three-day’s rest for Game 7, it still requires Game 7 being delayed by one day, and no interruption to Games 1-5. That means it would have to rain in St. Louis on ONLY October 18 and/or 19.
            Also, you like talking about leverage situations. By not starting Greinke today, you set up Ryu for Game 7 on 4-days rest on the road. This does not seem the best leverage situation in which to use him.
            Finally, you suggest that this is necessary to set up Kershaw’s position in the World Series. Well, first of all, for Kershaw to pitch in the World Series, we have to win the pennant, so I don’t really like setting up for the next series until we win this one. But I am still saying that Kershaw pitched Game 6 on October 18, and still has four day’s rest for Game 1 of the World Series, if we get there. I don’t know why you are prepared to start Kershaw on 3-day’s rest but not Greinke. Yes, Kershaw is the better pitcher, but Greinke is still an elite pitcher.

          • GoDodgersFromWisconsin

            Greinke and Kershaw have one start left apiece whether Nolasco pitches Game 4 or a later game. Moving Nolasco back does nothing to maximize Greinke and Kershaw’s number of starts.

            But, again, you straight up say you don’t trust Nolasco…so let’s start him in a game that could decide the pennant. I don’t understand this.

            As far as the NLCS goes, hypothetical Kershaw rotation:
            Game 1 start/Game 2 rest/travel day/Game 3 rest/Game 4 start/Game 5 rest/travel day/Game 6 rest/Game 7. That’s three days’ rest each time. Where are you getting these extra two days?

            Regarding Ryu, leverage and a road start, if you go short rest on Greinke/Kershaw, your options become full rest for Ryu in a road start game 7 or short rest for a road start game 6, with Nolasco interposed somewhere. On the road in game 6, after a Kershaw game 5 start? Push Kershaw back to a game 6 which may not even happen? Your best chance of avoiding Ryu on the road in game 7 is to pitch Nolasco tonight, win that game, and then go for the double hammer with Greinke and Kershaw and try to end the series in 6.

          • leekfink

            READ THE POST! The entire purpose of starting Greinke today is so that he has 2 more starts. If he starts today rather than Game 5, he can still pitch in Game 7. That’s the whole point. Let me try to make it clear:


            The hypothetical Kershaw rotation you proffer is exactly what I am suggesting for Greinke, and which you have categorically rejected (and seemingly not even grasped conceptually). If you are insistent on the pitchers needing 4 days rest, then Kershaw would have (assuming Nolasco won Game 4 of the NLDS) started Game 1 of the NLCS and then Game 5 of the NLCS, meaning that Game 7 would need to be delayed by at least 1 game for Kershaw to start on 3-days rest, and 4 to start on regular rest.

            It appears that your argument is premised on the idea that it is OK/good to pitch the younger Kershaw on 3-days rest, but not Greinke. This makes zero sense.

            And again, you seem to misunderstand what I am saying about the rotation. So let me make it clear:

            GAME 1 – GREINKE
            GAME 2 – KERSHAW
            GAME 3 – RYU
            GAME 4 – GREINKE
            GAME 5 – NOLASCO
            GAME 6 – KERSHAW
            GAME 7 – GREINKE
            You want to avoid a Ryu road start–done? You want to avoid a Nolasco road start? Done. The idea that your best chance to avoid a Ryu road start is to hope that we win 4 (now 3) in a row doesn’t make sense. The idea that you have to “push” Kershaw to a Game 6 also does not make sense–that’s when he is scheduled to pitch already. While true that Game 6 may not even happen, that is the case regardless of who starts today. Yes, Mattingly may choose to use Kershaw in a Game 5 if we have our backs to the wall, but I am not advocating for that at all. If we are to win the Pennant, we know that the NLCS must go AT LEAST 6 games. So, if we are going to win, Kershaw will pitch again. If we are not going to win, it does not really matter.

  • scooplew

    Jon: I completely agree with your analysis: Start Nolasco Tuesday and if he shows signs of weakening, have Volquez and Withrow, both ready and rested, prepared to come in. It is too much of a crap shoot to throw both our aces out Tuesday and presumably Wednesday on three days’ rest for each.

  • btimmer

    The Cardinals are batting .181 in the postseason. And are still in good shape to make it to the World Series. In the 1918 World Series, the Red Sox hit .186 and won in six games. The Cubs hit .210. The Cubs were also most likely throwing that series.

  • ASW1

    Dance with who brung ya – all this madness about starting guys on short rest is panic talk – if Nolasco is going to have to make a start in this series regardless, then it’s only logical to give him the ball tomorrow night and allow Greinke, Kershaw, Ryu to finish it out on regular rest.

    • Robert

      Agreed. And let us not forget – the Cards have Lynn going tomorrow. Hopefully HanRam is ok and we put some runs on the board tomorrow.
      If we get the win tomorrow we got Greinke and Kershaw going to take us to the World Series. I think we would all be ok with that in March…

    • leekfink

      Kershaw and Greinke brung us. Use them as much as we can.

      You keep suggesting that using Kershaw and Greinke on 3 day’s rest is “panic.” If that’s the case, why aren’t we using a 5-man rotation in the playoffs. Let Nolasco pitch Game 4 and Volquez pitch Game 5? Answer–because that’s crazy. Because it’s WAY better to use Kershaw and Greinke than Volquez. And it’s still way better to get Kershaw and Greinke as many starts as possible.

  • RBI

    Great game. The stadium was rocking! I got to check in with fellow DT-ers KT and Bob_from_Vegas before the game, and we all cheered and pumped each other up. (Must have done something right!) Ryu was amazing to watch, and the Cards felt like they were coasting, hoping Wainwright would get it done for them. All in all a very fun evening. Now let’s go for another win tomorrow! I think we should start with Nolasco. He’s a home town boy with a lot to prove.

    • ASW1

      Glad to hear you guys were able to meet up and have a great time rooting the boys to victory.
      The worm has turned!

    • scooplew

      Nice first person report. I have never met another DTer. Perhaps next year.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    BALL GAME!!!! 7 WINS TO GO!!!!




    • Bob_in_Vegas

      Definitely a pleasure meeting RBI and KT . . . and being able to witness first-hand the great job by Ryu, Hanley gritting it out, and Puig breaking out of his funk . . . I hope he could feel the love everyone was sending him.

      The Dodgers are 3-0 in postseason games I’ve attended (with my Jackie Robinson t-shirt, just like the profile pic) — I’d love to stay for more, but I’m spending the night in Victorville before work in Vegas manana (up and back in one day crossed my mind, then disappeared as I got in the desert/2-lane patches).

      But RBI will be there to root them on these next two games . . . your record is even better than mine, I believe . . . right?

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    Win number two tomorrow

    • Bob_in_Vegas

      Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of Kirk Gibson’s blast — how fitting for a similar memorable victory for Dodger history.

  • John_from_Aus

    I say Nolasco

  • twaseverthus

    Competely agreed. A start by Greinke and Kershaw in which they’re not allowed to pitch 7, 8, 9 innings is a waste. Nolasco can be just as dominant as Ryu was tonight, and I fully expect him to be.

  • Crosseyed and Painless

    Belcher pitched games 1 and 4, and Hersh games 2 and 5 in ’88. And, yes, Belcher’s game 1 start was short, but was still 71 pitches for Belcher in game 1 versus 72 pitches for Kersh in Game 2. And they won all 4 of those games (the Tudor start was the lone loss). And as we all know, Hersh went for games 1, 3 and 7 in the run up against the Mets. That was some mighty desperation there.

    Since Beli seems to have righted his ship, I see no problem with going with a Beli, JP, Beard and KJ combo to close out games after 6-7 IP. And I’m being generous with Beli, as I’d be happy with JP in the 7th, the Beard in the 8th and KJ in the 9th. And remember friends, this isn’t the ‘roid era anymore. So not the same fear re the batters. In this once again weak era of offensive baseball.

    • leekfink

      Absolutely! You are right about the games that Belcher and Hershiser pitched (see my earlier comments). But Belcher’s Game 1 start–that he blew–was actually on 4-day’s rest, while his Game 4 win was on 3-day’s rest. So his failure was not because of a lack of rest.

      Also, using Hershiser on 3-day’s rest was not desperation. The PLAN was for Hershiser to pitch the entire playoffs on 3-days rest. When Game 3 was rained out, they could have waited and let him pitch Game 4 as scheduled, on 4-day’s rest. In fact, that is what the Mets did with Gooden, and that is why in a winner-take-all Game 7 at Dodger Stadium, Ron Darling and not Dwight Gooden was starting, and the Dodgers promptly scored 6 runs off Darling in 1+ innings, and then had to face Hershiser who had not given up 6 runs combined in the last 74 2/3 innings he had thrown, going back a month and a half. (Though, it was a bit of desperation to have him come out of the bullpen in Game 4.)

      The reason for that plan was clear–Hershiser was the best pitcher in baseball in 1988, and better than any of our possible options: Tim Belcher, Tim Leary, John Tudor, Ramon Martinez, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela, or Alejandro Pena. We wanted to be able to use him as much as possible because our best chance of winning was with him on the mound.

      • rumped6

        Two big, and a bunch of little unknowns: with this extended rest, added to
        first-time pressure (see difference in first-time Ryu versus last night’s cool master; see
        Puig from very first swing versus the St Louie version)
        which Ricky shows: full-fledged member of the Amazing Run, or September’s
        Lost in Space? No one knows.
        Second: what kind of stresses will the short-rest guys experience, in such high-
        stakes games? No one knows. Even if no apparent immediate damage, they could be laying the structural groundwork for serious arm troubles down the road.
        Unknown number one just makes so much more calculated sense, given that risk
        to not one, but two premier pitchers.
        Just compete. See if this year’s team, including Rick, is good enough. Winning’s fine; winning regardless of eventual cost not so much.
        Don’t worry, be happy!
        PS: Hershiser was a rare phenomenon that year. Rare…

        • leekfink

          Let me work backward on your points. First, Hershiser was a rare phenomenon that year. But starting on three-day’s rest is not a rare phenomenon. Belcher, Schilling, Beckett, and there are probably more. Look at the USA Today article for just a few. Moreover, Greinke is almost as good as Hershiser.

          The idea of “just compete” and see if the team wins makes no sense. Why isn’t Capuano or Volquez getting a start in the post-season? Brian Wilson did not pitch for the Dodgers until August 22–should we have Brandon League pitching the 8th inning? We spent half the season without Hanley Ramirez as shortstop. Should we let Nick Punto start there? Of course not–Hanley’s playing even with a broken rib. It’s because when you get to the playoffs, you do extraordinary things. You spend the whole regular season getting prepared for these moments.

          Finally, I understand the concern about overusing a pitcher. But the strain on a pitcher’s arm is more from long-term abuse–too many innings, too many pitches in a game. I cannot say that one start on three-day’s rest could not screw up a guy’s season or even his career (Mike Davis’s career was probably ruined in 1988 when he stepped into a pothole on the field in Spring Training. But the concern is proper care of the pitchers over the course of a season, not 2 starts on 3-days rest.

          Finally, you are measuring the eventual cost against winning this year, and you are banking on winning in the future. That’s backwards. If this were July, that makes sense. But this is the National League Championship Series. You don’t get to this point very often (this, as you know, is only the third time in two and a half decades that the Dodgers have gotten this far). You take advantage of those rare opportunities when you have a chance. I was 12 years old when Gibson hit that home run 25 years ago, and my experience as a fan had been this: they were the defending World Champions in 1982 and lost only on the last day of the season; they won the division in 1983, they won the division in 1985, and after a 2-year hiatus, were back in the playoffs in 1988. I assumed that they would keep winning divisions and pennants for years to come. But it was 7 years until they were back in the playoffs, 16 years until they even won a post-season game, 20 years before they were back in the NLCS, and it’s 25 years and counting since a World Championship. These things are rare. They almost never happen, and when you are there, in the precipice, you have to go for it, because you might lost that chance.

          Heck, in 1988 alone, the following things happened–Ramon Martinez made his major league debut, the Dodgers signed Pedro Martinez and Raul Mondesi as international free agents, and the Dodgers drafted Billy Ashley, Eric Karros, and Mike Piazza. And yet that team only made 2 playoff appearances and never won a post-season game. Think of that–Ramon Martinez, Eric Karros, Raul Mondesi, and Mike Piazza never even won a post-season game with the Dodgers. I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. I hope that Hanley can spend the off-season in a big bucket of ice and come back healthy all season; that Matt Kemp returns to form, that Yasiel Puig continues to develop, and that Kershaw and Greinke remain dominant. But all of that could fall apart. In 2009, the Dodgers had 95 wins and the best record in the National League. They returned their core players, with every reason to expect that Kemp, Ethier, Kershaw, Broxton, Billingsley, Martin, and Loney would all continue to develop and we would be right back in the hunt for the pennant. Instead, we finished below .500, 12 games out of first place. The future is always uncertain. The only thing we know is that we have a chance to win the National League Pennant and we should do everything we can to get there.

  • RBI

    Wow, the Cards are really down on Puig! His antics annoy them to no end, whether he strikes out or hits.

    • rumped6

      Cards are not the only ones:-).

      I love natural enthusiasm, demonstrations of sheer joy.
      Hate calculated, choreographed “Oh, look at me. Forget
      my mates are even here!” (a la td scores in NFL, where
      the peacocks strut for the crowd while the spontaneous
      wish of their guys to hug and dance and roll on the ground together
      goes a -wastin’.

      Yasiel would do fine with the Raiders, unfortunately.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    yasielpuig ✔ @YasielPuig
    Acabo de publicar una foto http://instagram.com/p/fecW4BjYe-/

  • Bob_in_Vegas

    No matter who pitches, the Dodgers have to score. Of course, limiting the opposition means limiting the amount you need to score.

    Tonight proved what we’ve seen: when Hanley plays, the Dodgers win — especially when Hanley contributes, as he did today. (Tho his first practice throw to Adrian looked terrible — I’m glad he wasn’t tested in the field.) What a boost to us fans to know he was in the game — I’ll bet his teammates felt the same boost!

    • rumped6

      Great effort by Hanley, not always a favorite in these parts.

      Got away with “in the county” instead of “in the neighborhood”
      on that DP attempt. Mentioned by laughing guys on MLB network.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT
  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    another camera angle:


  • Bob_Hendley

    I may be showing my age, but after our two aces went down, Ryu’s effort was Gomeresque.

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman


  • Omid Majdi

    Why Ricky Nolasco should NOT start at all this series:

    Cardinals hitters vs. Nolasco:
    Carlos Beltran 16 for 47, .340 BA, .404 SLG, .819 OPS
    David Freese 6 for 12, .500 BA, .583 SLG, 1.083 OPS
    Matt Holliday 12 for 26, .462 BA, .885 SLG, 1.366 OPS
    Jon Jay 7 for 13, .538 BA, .615 SLG, 1.187 OPS
    Yadier Molina 3 for 11, .273 BA, .273 SLG, .606 OPS

    Those guys are a combined 44 for 109 .404 BA against Mr. Nolasco. Unless we have confidence to put up at least a high-five against Lynn, it could get very nasty. I hate to say it, and let me say that I hate to say it again because I really hate to say it, but those same guys against Edinson Volquez are a combined 22 for 76 .289 BA.

    At the very least, please start Nolasco and have him on a very short leash with Volquez ready to take over. Wow, I can’t believe I just said that.

    • foul tip

      If it’s Nolasco, no doubt the leash will be short.

      • Omid Majdi

        Touche, those numbers against him though are just scary, but of course we also need to factor in the current Cardinals team BA this series so far…

    • Jon_Wymore

      A very valid point. Either way though I agree with Jon. Game 4 is when you want this guy to go (or Volquez) because 1. you have Lynn going which is a better matchup, 2. If you win, Greinke and Kershaw could close out series. If it goes to game 7 I think we have to be fine with Ryu. At some point you have to trust 3 pitchers.
      Now if they hadn’t pitched Kershaw in game 4 of NLDS he could have gone 1-4-7 and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    • twaseverthus

      Those are eye-opening stats, rendered head-scratching when considered in conjunction with his 0.86 ERA over the last 3 years against them.

      • Omid Majdi

        Yeah, he’s got a 0.75 ERA against them in 2 starts this year and is 2-0 in those starts. But he also has a 0.00 ERA against the potent offense of Boston and a 9.95 ERA against a much weaker San Francisco offense. Go figure. I think this furthers the point of “who the hell knows what we’re gonna get?”