The Dodgers are facing their most important game to date later on today. A win would make the World Series a series and set the Dodgers up for a more likely comeback attempt.
The Dodgers are virtually facing a must-win game today at Dodger Stadium. While a 3-0 series deficit wouldn’t be the official end of the 2018 Dodgers, it would take a miracle to come back from that type of deficit. Against the 2018 Red Sox, that isn’t going to happen. The Dodgers will send Walker Buehler to the mound in search of their first win this series.
For Walker Buehler, this is not the first time he’s been tasked with keeping the Dodgers’ hopes alive. Buehler started game seven of the NLCS which was a real win or go home situation. Buehler held his own composure and pitched 4 2/3 innings allowing six hits but just one earned run to help guide the Dodgers towards their game seven win in the NLCS.
Tonight Buehler will face a Red Sox lineup that has shown they can be held in check but the Dodgers must do a better job of closing out innings when they get to two outs. Buehler will need to use his wipeout stuff to make sure the Red Sox don’t have any more two-out rallies. If the Dodgers starting pitching had been more effective with two outs, this would be a different series.
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Buehler was the Dodgers Ace in the second half of the season posting a stellar 2.03 ERA in the second half of the season. Buehler held opposing batters to a minuscule .165 batting average in the second half of the season. He was also equally effective to left and right-handed batters holding them to averages of .195 and .191 respectively.
Walker Buehler possesses the stuff to deliver a strong start in game three and it begins with his slider. While Buehler’s curveball is a filthy pitch in its own right, the Red Sox struggled against sliders from right-handed pitchers during the regular season. Mookie Betts hit just .225 against right-handed sliders this season and Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. hit even worse with averages of .224 and .211.
Sandy Leon and Mitch Moreland were among the best Red Sox hitters against right-handed sliders this season with averages of .368 and .303. While Leon and Moreland are easily overlooked in a lineup filled with big names, Buehler will need to hone in and not lose focus against the best lineup in baseball.
This will be the biggest start of Walker Buehler’s young career but after pitching well in game seven of the NLCS on the road, Buehler should be up to the task of helping the Dodgers claw back in the World Series. Buehler must come out and not get too amped up to begin the game. An early hole could set the Dodgers up for another loss but a strong start could position the Dodgers to cut their series deficit in half.