Eovaldi makes his final start of the season

Eovaldi makes his final start of the season

ATLANTA -- Nathan Eovaldi will be making his final start of the year for the Dodgers on Saturday night, "No matter what," according to manager Don Mattingly.

Mattingly said it wouldn't matter if the Dodgers climbed back into the division race or if Eovaldi threw a perfect game against the Braves, his 21-year-old arm will head to the bullpen to rest up for next year.

"We're not taking a chance with young guys, that's the organization's plan to build arms," said Mattingly, even though he said he has a gut feeling that "if he's going to blow, he's going to blow."

Speaking of next year, Mattingly isn't sure exactly where Eovaldi fits in, considering his arrival was well ahead of schedule, prompted by Rubby De La Rosa's elbow needing Tommy John surgery.

"He's made a nice case for himself," Mattingly said of Eovaldi's chances of being in the rotation next April. "With his age and development down the road, he's got a lot of intangibles. He's a tough kid, really competitive, willing to keep working on getting better. He's got that type of makeup.

"It's hard to say, 'It's yours.' We may go into the season planning that way, but you've got to have all kinds of options. You've got to look at him as one of the candidates."

The Dodgers expect the 2012 rotation to start with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. Hiroki Kuroda will be a free agent and is rumored considering a return to Japan. De La Rosa won't be ready until late in the year. Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla are coming off season-ending operations and their futures are uncertain.