Following weeks of uncertainty, Ricky Nolasco was sent to the surging Dodgers over the weekend. He appears more than pleased with how everything played out.
Nolasco will try to come out strong in his Dodgers debut Tuesday night opposite Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy, who played a big role in last month’s brawl between the two clubs.
After several teams showed interest in him, Los Angeles (43-45) acquired Nolasco from Miami in exchange for three minor league pitchers Saturday.
“I’m definitely excited. It’s L.A., the team that I grew up going to the games as a kid,” Nolasco, who grew up in Corona, Calif., told MLB’s official website. “It’s kind of surreal now, until I’m actually there. It will take time to sink in, but I’m definitely excited.”
The right-hander went 5-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 18 starts with the Marlins, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings Wednesday in a 6-3 win over the Braves.
“He’s a competitor,” Hanley Ramirez said. “He knows how to pitch, and I think he helps us a lot. He wants to be out there, and he’s a good teammate. I was with him six or seven years (in Miami), and nobody has a complaint about him. A great guy.”
Nolasco was at his best during a 2-1 win over the D-backs on May 19, yielding one run and five hits while striking out a season-high 11 in eight-plus innings. He is, however, 1-1 with a 7.00 ERA in his last three starts at Chase Field.
Miguel Montero is 5 for 13 with a homer and two doubles against Nolasco, and Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hill are a combined 9 for 13.
Kennedy (3-4, 5.16 ERA) also figures to be under the spotlight as he faces the Dodgers for the first time since causing both benches to empty in a 5-3 road loss June 11. Kennedy hit rising star Yasiel Puig with a pitch, then later plunked opposing pitcher Zack Greinke with another high pitch after both teams had been warned. The right-hander received a 10-game suspension for his actions.
Kennedy most recently allowed two runs in seven innings Thursday in a 5-4, 15-inning road win over the Mets. He is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his last four starts against Los Angeles.
Kennedy won’t have to worry about facing Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who was placed on the disabled list Monday with joint inflammation in his left shoulder. Manager Don Mattingly said the team doesn’t think the problem is related to the shoulder surgery Kemp had this offseason.
“I just want to play, and I want to be 100 percent when I play,” said Kemp, batting .254 with four homers in 61 games. “I’m not good when I’m 70-80 percent. I may be all right, but I want to be more than all right.”
The Dodgers are playing their best baseball of the year, winning 13 of 16 to climb within 3 1/2 games of the NL West-leading Diamondbacks (47-42). Los Angeles had dropped 17 of 21 in the series before taking Monday’s opener 6-1 behind a season-high-tying 17 hits.
“Without this little streak we’ve been, on who knows what position we’d be in,” second baseman Mark Ellis said.
Greinke threw seven strong innings while Ramirez and Andre Ethier went a combined 6 for 10. Ramirez is batting .486 with six homers, 18 RBIs and 20 runs during a 20-game hitting streak, the longest active stretch in the majors and longest by a Dodger since Ethier’s 30-game streak from April 2-May 6, 2011.
The Diamondbacks had a season-high-tying five-game overall win streak snapped Monday, but they still have won seven of their last nine at home by a 46-23 margin.