Ricky Nolasco, the scheduled starter, said he hasn’t been told that anyone is taking place. But Mattingly’s concession was the first time the manager has publicly acknowledged the possibility of Game 1 starter Zack Greinke pitching on three days’ rest.
“Ricky is ready to go,” Mattingly said. “I’ll probably be able to tell you a lot more after the game. I would say, yes, today’s results may have something to do — but like I said, Ricky is ready to go right now.”
It wouldn’t be the first time that Nolasco has been passed over for a starting assignment in these playoffs, his first. Nolasco was scheduled to start Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves seven days ago, with the Dodgers leading the series 2-1. Instead, Clayton Kershaw was named the starter the night before.
Greinke was the Dodgers’ second-best pitcher during the regular season. It’s hard to imagine the Dodgers falling behind 3-0 in the series and giving the ball to Nolasco rather than Greinke.
Last Monday, Kershaw delivered by pitching seven strong innings while Nolasco waited.
Now it’s been 19 days since the right-hander started a game and 15 days since he faced live hitters.
Nolasco threw approximately 80 pitches in a simulated game at Dodger Stadium last Wednesday.
“I treated that like a game,” Nolasco said. “Threw a bullpen two days after that just like a normal routine of a start, from start to start. Just been playing catch and doing flat grounds like normal, like I would in between starts. Everything feels good.”
Physically, Nolasco might be the most well-rested pitcher on staff. Emotionally? He’s had to force himself to focus after getting geared up for his first postseason start, only to have it taken from him at the last minute.
“I think anybody would want to be able to pitch in a postseason game,” Nolasco said. “You’re pretty pumped up and got some adrenaline going. Just stay focused. When they tell me, hey, my time will come. Whether it will or won’t everything is meant to be and happens for a reason. That’s the way I’m looking at it.”