Ryu/Dodgers Versus Lackey/Red Evil in NLDS Game 3
By Scott Andes
It was Matt Kemp’s beautiful home run in the eighth inning of game 2 that gave the Dodgers a 3-2 win, and tied their five game National League Division Series against the Cardinals at one game apiece. Much to the relief of Dodger fans everywhere, and Dodger’s left hander J.P. Howell. Now the series will shift to Busch Stadium in St. Louis for games three and four. The Dodgers need to win at least one of the two games to send the series back to Dodger Stadium for a decisive game 5. In an even broader storyline, the Dodgers are tasked with the huge job of saving Baseball from another Giants/Cardinals NLCS. Gulp.
Dodgers @ Cardinals-NLDS Game 3
Hyun-jin Ryu-14-7 vs. John lackey-14-10
Some say that the pitching matchups for the rest of this series fall in the Dodgers favor. I’m not sure about that, but one thing I do know is that the Dodgers have played very well on the road this year. Their MLB best 49-32 record makes me a feel a little better. But I think you throw all that out in the playoffs, as the Dodgers find themselves in enemy territory surrounded by a sea of red.
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Tonight’s pitching matchups will feature Dodger’s left hander Hyun-jin Ryu squaring off against 35-year old veteran right hander John Lackey.
For Ryu, this will be his first start since he injured his left shoulder on September 12 in San Francisco. In that start he was removed after one inning and hasn’t pitched since. It was the same injury that sidelined him for three weeks in April and May. It’s basically just soreness. But Ryu was given the ok from the medical staff after he threw a 45-pitch simulated game at Dodger Stadium. Ryu says he feels good and confident coming into tonight’s game. This may be the most important start of Ryu’s life. The Dodgers need him on his A-game.
Ryu finished the regular season with a 14-7 record, and a 3.38 ERA in 26 starts. He whiffed 139 and walked 29 in 152 innings pitched. He posted a 2.62 FIP, and an 8.2 whiff per nine rate. He pitched well all throughout the season.
Ryu faced the Cardinals once during the regular season back on June 27, and took a loss. In that game he threw seven innings and allowed three earned runs on nine hits and struck out seven. The Dodgers lost that game 9-4. But in his career against the Cardinals he is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts. In those starts he has whiffed 14 and walked just one. At Busch Stadium he has made just one starts, but he won that game by throwing seven frames and allowing just one unearned run on five hits and whiffing seven. And let’s not forget that Ryu shutout the Cardinals in game 3 if the NLCS last year. Ryu has pitched well on the road this season as well. Away from Dodger Stadium he is 10-4 with a 3.03 ERA.
The numbers certainly look good. Ryu has held the Cardinals to a .236 (13 for 55) batting average against with one home run and a .559 OPS. Hey look at this, Matt Carpenter is hitting just .200 (2 for 10) against Ryu. Matt Holliday is 3 for 10, and Yadier Molina has hit the only home run. The Dodgers have said if Ryu falters they have Dan Haren ready to assist.
The Cardinals will counter with right hander John Lackey. The Cards picked up Lackey from the Red Sox at the July 31 trade deadline. Remember they traded away Allen Craig and Joe Kelly, the guy who cracked Hanley’s ribs last year.
Lackey has pitched ok for them, but not spectacular. He is still an effective pitcher, but not nearly as good as he was once. He was 3-3 with a 4.30 ERA in ten starts for the Cardinals this year. 48 whiffs and 15 walks to go along with 69 hits given up in 60 innings of work. Overall he was 14-10 with a 3.82 ERA and 164 whiffs. Lackey has posted a 9.4 hits per nine rate in his time with the Red Sox, and a 10.2 hits per nine rate with the Cardinals. He gives up a lot of hits and base runners.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
But Lackey has always been a good hurler in the postseason. In his time with the Angels and Red Sox, he has posted a 6-5 record, and a 3.03 ERA in 19 postseason games. He’s pitched in two world series, including last year’s fall classic for Boston. Ironically that was against the Cardinals. The Dodgers never faced him in the 2014 regular season.
Here’s the bad part. Lackey has pitched very well against the Dodgers in his long career. Although I can’t remember the last time Lackey faced the Dodgers. Overall he is 5-3 with a 1.93 ERA in 10 starts versus the Dodgers. He is also 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in five starts at Busch Stadium. The Dodgers need to be on the lookout for Lackey’s strong curveball.
The good news for the Dodgers is that of the seven players that have faced Lackey, several of them have hit him hard. The current Dodgers are batting .344 (43 for 125) with three home runs, and an .863 OPS against. Carl Crawford kills Lackey to the tune of a .479 (23 for 48) batting average and two home runs, two doubles, and a 1.187 OPS. Juan Uribe is batting .280, and Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .353 (6 for 17).
As Carlos accurately wrote, it’s up to the Dodgers to stop the Giants from reaching the World Series, save us from another hellish Giants/Cardinals NLCS, and save Baseball this October. Of course if you remember I correctly evaluated the Giants as a World Series caliber club on twitter back in May. Everyone argued with me and made me feel like a jerk. They said the Giants didn’t have the pitching, which is laughable now. Right. Sorry to say but the people who argued with me that the Giants wouldn’t go anywhere this year really know nothing about Baseball. It’s up to the Dodgers to stop them, but they have to get past the Cardinals first to do it. And for god’s sakes stop pitching to Matt Carpenter.
You can catch tonight’s game on Fox Sports one. The Giants play their game three against Washington this afternoon at 2PM. In that game Doug Fister will face Madison Bumgarner. God be with us all.
Can the Dodgers save Baseball? Will Blue colored good triumph over red colored evil? Join us after the game tonight for our recap to find out.
Game time – 6:00 PM TV- Fox Sports 1