Dodgers National NLDS Game Two

Sep 30, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill (44) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill (44) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

After a tense victory last night, the Dodgers look to take a commanding series lead before heading back to LA.

Clayton Kershaw wasn’t great, but fortunately neither was Max Scherzer. Both bullpens were, and the Dodgers were barely able to hold their early 4-0 lead to take game one and steal home field advantage. All the Dodgers have to do to advance to the NLCS is split the next four games, and another road win could go a long way.

Game two will feature a pair of arms that aren’t generally thought of as shutdown guys, even though they both are. Both of these pitchers have shown the ability to shut down any offense, so this might be the pitchers’ duel that last night’s game was supposed to be.

Dodgers Starter

Rich Hill will get the game two start, and this is why he was acquired. Jharel Cotton looked great in Oakland, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes each have huge upsides, but neither of them is going to start a playoff game two any time soon. Hill is, and he gives the Dodgers a great shot to take a commanding 2-0 lead.

His Dodger career started later than we would have liked, as he missed a few weeks after the trade deadline with a blister. When he did pitch for LA, he dominated. He had a rough outing in Arizona, but in his other five starts he allowed three earned runs. His last two starts came against the Giants and he gave up six hits in each game, but only allowed three combined runs.

As you’ve probably seen or heard, Hill relies on the curveball. According to FanGraphs, he’s thrown the curve 49.7 percent of the time this season. On a related note,’s Mike Petriello wrote an article about how this should play well against Washington, who have struggled against curveballs this season. In short, Hill’s curveball spins a ton (99.7 percent of his curves have a spin rate over 2800 RPM). The Nationals have the league’s worst average against such pitches (0.97). In theory, he should match up well against them.

Nationals Starter

Tanner Roark will start today with Gio Gonzalez starting game three. This was announced yesterday, but apparently decided a while ago.

Roark throws with his right hand, which should be good news for the Dodgers, However, Roark has been fantastic this season. He doesn’t really have any filthy pitches, but he’s done an incredible job limiting hard contact.

Roark finished the season with a 2.83 ERA and a 3.79 FIP. That’s quite the difference. According to Inside Edge, his BABIP in the second half was the fifth-lowest among all qualified starters at .234.

Roark started at Dodger Stadium in June and shoved through six innings. He held the Dodgers to four baserunners through the first seven innings, but he lost a 2-0 lead in the eighth. After a walk and a single, Yasmani Grandal knocked a go-ahead homer that ended up being the game winner.

Dodgers Lineup

Ironic, really that the Dodgers waited until the postseason to feature the same 1-8.

Andrew Toles remains the starter in left against a right-handed pitcher. Despite not showing harsh splits in his limited action this season, Toles was pinch-hit for late in yesterday’s game. Howie Kendrick replaced him both at the plate and in the field, which I would say was Dave Roberts‘ biggest strategic gaffe of the night. Toles has been great defensively, and in a close game you should probably keep your best defense on the field.

Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez are the only current Dodgers that have homered off Roark in the past. Only two Dodgers have more than 10 plate appearances against Roark, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz. Neither of them have had any success (1-13 and 2-11, respectively).

Nationals Lineup

The only change for the Nats comes behind the plate, with Jose Lobaton starting in place of Pedro Severino. Severino played well yesterday, so it’ll be nice to see a different guy in the eight hole.

Looking at past numbers against Hill is sorta pointless, since he didn’t really turn into RICH HILL until last season. Ryan Zimmerman is the only National with 10 plate appearances against Hill. However, pretty much every Nat that has faced him has had success. They’re a combined 15-for-27 against Hill with two dingers (both Zimmerman). Ben Revere, who isn’t in the lineup, is the only National that’s faced him since 2013.

Other Stuff

First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 PST and will be shown on Fox Sports 1.

The forecast in DC calls for rain throughout most of the day. The rain should be light, but it could play a factor in today’s game. Hopefully, it isn’t strong enough to cause any sort of delay and Hill can have a normal, not-weather-affected outing