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09/03/11 6:26 PM ET

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.

Rivera's production has Dodgers thinking big

ATLANTA -- The production the Dodgers have received from Juan Rivera, and the resulting turnaround in victories, has management further believing that the addition of one big hitter could turn the team around next year.

"Right now, we see what Juan Rivera, one guy, has done for us," manager Don Mattingly said of Rivera, who has 27 RBIs in 40 games since being picked up for virtually nothing from Toronto.

"With Juan, and James [Loney] swinging the bat, it's been a total transformation of the team. That tells you what one bat can do. A solid bat is something we've got to have or we'll be right back where we were. You get that and it's like dominoes. Depending on what you get, the dominoes fall."

Rivera arrived at the All-Star break and replaced Marcus Thames with the team's record at 41-51 (which included four straight wins going into the break). Since then, the Dodgers are 26-19. They are 12-3 and have averaged 6.3 runs per game over the past 15 games. Since Aug. 18, they lead the Major Leagues with 95 runs scored and a .355 on-base percentage.

Rivera said he wants to return next year, which would be more likely if the Dodgers land a power-hitting first baseman. If they instead keep Loney at first base, they probably would try to find a better bat than Rivera's for left field.

Rivera, who hit .243 with Toronto, is hitting .292 with the Dodgers, but has only three homers.

Schedule has Mattingly changing lineup

ATLANTA -- Manager Don Mattingly took the lineup that was responsible for the Friday night's wild Dodgers comeback win and dismantled it for Saturday night's game.

Four of the eight position starters -- shortstop Dee Gordon, right fielder Andre Ethier, third baseman Aaron Miles and catcher Rod Barajas -- were replaced by Jamey Carroll, Tony Gwynn, Russell Mitchell and A.J. Ellis.

Mattingly said the main reason was the quirky scheduling resulting from Thursday's rainout makeup game in Pittsburgh. That was preceded by a day game Wednesday in Los Angeles, followed by a pair of night games in Atlanta and back-to-back day games Sunday in Atlanta and Monday in Washington.

"This three-city tour, with back-to-back day games, I'm trying to get guys rest," said Mattingly. "Everybody is playing well, so there's no reason not to get Aaron some rest, Jamey got a day off and he's back. Dee played five straight. A little of it is lefty-righty. [The Braves started left-hander Mike Minor on Saturday.] A lot of it is keeping everybody fresh with energy."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.