WASHINGTON -- As September kicks into high gear, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has had to juggle keeping his team afloat in the National League Wild Card race with dealing with a starting rotation that remains in flux.
After a three-game set with the Nationals, owners of baseball's best record, the Dodgers have another pivotal series in Cincinnati this weekend against the Reds. After leaning on Josh Beckett for a mostly brilliant start on Wednesday night, Mattingly didn't want to disrupt the right-hander's rhythm by starting him out of turn this weekend. Right-hander Joe Blanton will start the opener, while rookie right-hander Stephen Fife will make the fifth start of his career on Saturday.
That leaves Sunday's slot open, and one day after saying right-hander John Ely -- who has made only two appearances in the Major Leagues this season, both in relief -- could start, Mattingly said right-hander Aaron Harang likely will go on short rest. Harang tossed 4 1/3 innings while taking the loss in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader with the Nats.
"I talked to him today about it," Mattingly said. "He feels good. His work will be kind of on that schedule."
"With Beckett, we kind of have him lined up where we wanted him to keep him on his regular rest."