Trade for Nolasco proving to be quite a pick-up for Dodgers
LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers have two former Cy Young Award winners on their pitching staff and a Korean-born phenom who will undoubtedly win some votes when ballots are cast for National League rookie of the year after the season.
They also have Ricky Nolasco, and that's a very good thing.
Nolasco has been a Dodger for fewer than five weeks, but in that span he has established himself as a key member of a starting rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
On a Wednesday afternoon when rookie Yasiel Puig stole headlines for being pulled from the game after the fourth inning, Nolasco pitched another gem, tossing a three-hit shutout over eight innings and beating the Chicago Cubs 4-0.
The win gave the Dodgers a series win and helped wash away the two defeats they absorbed in three games to the Boston Red Sox last weekend. The win improved the Dodgers record this month to 21-6, tying an L.A. franchise record for victories in a month.
But the most impressive statistic was this: Nolasco is 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA in August and 6-1 with a 2.20 ERA in 10 starts since he was acquired by the Dodgers in a July 6 trade with the Miami Marlins. He has also thrown 16 consecutive scoreless innings.
"I'm not sure what my best month is, but it definitely feels good," Nolasco said. "To do it at this time for this team definitely feels the best."
Nolasco, who is from Corona and attended Rialto High, said the move back home to a contender has been critical to his success. At the time of the trade, he was 5-8 with a 3.85 ERA.
"I know what's at stake, pitching here and the chase that we're in right now," he said. "A lot's at stake. As far as doing anything different, just feeling more comfortable, making better pitches, mentally being more focused and trying to make good pitches down in the zone."
He did that against the Cubs, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out 11, matching a season high.
He faced one jam, in the second, when Junior Lake reached base on a two-out error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez and Wellington Castillo followed with a double. Lake held at third, and Nolasco escaped by striking out Cody Ransom.
"Ricky was really good today, just what we needed," manager Don Mattingly said. "It was a tough game, just from the standpoint of 12 o'clock (start time), coming off a loss, guys are tired and Ricky gives us a great outing. That was good for us."
So were home runs by Ramirez and Andre Ethier. The Dodgers totaled just six hits, but three of them came in the fifth when they scored twice for a 4-0 cushion.
They're off Thursday, then face the San Diego Padres for three games starting Friday night at Dodger Stadium.