Tonight is Game 4 of the NLDS between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and after the beat down the Braves suffered last night, Don Mattingly has called on Clayton Kershaw to shut this series down as quickly as possible. Instead of Ricky Nolasco on the mound Monday night, it will be the Dodgers’ ace taking on Braves pitcher Freddy Garcia.
Since joining the Braves around a month ago, Garcia has posted an outstanding 1.65 ERA over 27.1 innings pitched; that sample size doesn’t stand up against his well-documented career ERA of 4.15 which has been established over 2264 IP.
All hope is not lost though. Kershaw pitching tonight means he’s throwing on just three days rest which is something he’s never done before in his career. This will certainly add a twist, as pitchers are creatures of habit, and doing something new adds a whole new variable that can affect pitchers in any number of ways. Kershaw could come out and throw a shut out, but he could also come out and blow the game early. It’s really a toss-up when you throw in that new variable.
Pitchers have pitched on three days rest in the past; in fact it used to be the norm. In the 1950s and 1960s it was completely normal when teams utilized a four man rotation rather than the contemporary five man. Not only that, but pitchers have made big playoff performances in the past on three days rest; players like Curt Schilling who did it multiple times in 2001 for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Josh Beckett did it for the Miami Marlins in 2003.
In Game 1 and Game 3 of the series, the Braves’ normally exceptional starting pitchers Kris Medlen and Julio Teheran were blown out. Now Atlanta’s last chance stands on the shoulder of a man who has been subpar throughout his career, as he takes on the best starting pitcher in the world.