Dodgers Nationals NLDS Game Three
By Alex Campos
The Dodgers look to defend home field and retake a series lead in the NLDS.
Yesterday’s game was painfully familiar, as the Dodgers couldn’t get a key hit. The Nationals did, and they managed to split the games in Washington. That’s a win for the Dodgers, as all they have to do now is win two games at home. A 2-0 lead coming home would have been fantastic, but stealing one was key.
There are plenty of concerns. The Dodgers have struggled against the Nats bullpen, mostly because they’ve used a lot of lefties. The two aces did not pitch very much like aces. Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal haven’t done much. However, now it’s a best-of-three and the Dodgers have home field. For what it’s worth, in the last two postseason series for the Dodgers, they’ve split the first two games at home and gone on to lose the series.
Kenta Maeda gets his first playoff start. Maeda made 32 starts in the regular season and will garner some rookie of the year attention, as his 3.48 ERA/3.58 FIP was more than anyone expected.
This is Maeda’s first start against the Nationals, which should help Maeda early on. He limped to the finish line, as his final start in San Francisco was awful He allowed five runs in 2.2 innings to end the Dodgers’ regular season with a 7-1 loss.
Maeda has had more success when working on extra rest, which he’s doing today. He also saw more success pitching at Dodger Stadium than on the road, which was a reason I wasn’t too worried about starting the postseason on the road.
Gio Gonzalez gets the start, which gives the Nationals an advantage. He posted his highest ERA since 2009 and his highest FIP since 2010.
The Dodgers are not good against lefties. They hit .213 during the season against lefties, which was the worst mark in the majors. They also had the worst wRC+ in the majors against the lefties, at 72. Only three full-time major leaguers had a worse wRC+ than that, so lefties basically turned the Dodgers into the fourth-worst hitter in baseball. Cool, cool.
The Nationals went 1-5 against the Dodgers in the regular season, with their lone win coming in Gonzalez’s only start against LA. That outing came in Washington and against Bud Norris, so probably don’t read too much into it. He did hold the Dodgers to a run and three hits in six innings and has a 1.69 ERA in five career starts against LA.
Gio also limped to the finish line, as he allowed 12 runs and 22 hits in his final three starts. He’s allowed at least one run in every start since mid-May, so the Dodgers should hopefully not be useless against him.
Something about Charlie Culberson starting a very important game rubs me the wrong way. Chase Utley shouldn’t play against lefties, but I’d probably feel better if Andrew Toles was in left and Howie Kendrick was at second.
The rest of the lineup is surprisingly normal. I’m a little surprised Yasmani Grandal is in the lineup and Carlos Ruiz isn’t, but it’s probably the right decision. Joc Pederson starts in center, which was pretty much decided when Enrique Hernandez was left off the roster. Yasiel Puig starts in right for Josh Reddick, but other than that things are normal.
Six Dodgers have faced Gonzalez more than 10 times in the past, with very little success. Ruiz leads the Dodgers with seven hits in 29 at bats against Gio, but Utley, Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez and Puig are all hitting below .150 against him.
A slight change at the top of the lineup, with Jayson Werth hitting ahead of Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper down in the cleanup spot. Werth hit in between them in the first two games against lefties, but this should help LA use a LOOGY against Murphy and Harper.
Yesterday’s Nationals hero Jose Lobaton starts behind the plate again. Don’t think Grandal should call the “hang a curveball” pitch.
Clayton Kershaw has been prepping in case he’s needed for a game four start. Right now, Julio Urias is still slated to throw game four. Kershaw starting four probably isn’t the worst thing in the world, but the possibility of having to use Rich Hill on short rest in game five isn’t ideal. None of this will matter if the Dodgers win today, so just do that.
First pitch is scheduled for 1:08 PST and will be shown on MLB Network.