NLCS Game 3 Preview: Dodgers Face Must Win Situation at Home
The Dodgers will return to home and try and put a highly disappointing weekend behind them. Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound for the Dodgers tonight in hopes of turning around the NLCS and avoiding a 3-0 series deficit. The Cardinals will send their ace, Adam Wainwright, one of the best big-game pitchers to the mound and suppress the Dodgers’ offense for a third straight game.
The Dodgers will have Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier returning to the starting lineup after Ramirez missed Game 2 with bruised ribs and Ethier missed Game 2 due to general soreness in his shin/ankle. Although Ethier didn’t start Game 2, he still came in to pinch hit, striking out in the game’s final at-bat.
Ramirez’s absence was sorely felt in Game 2 when St. Louis was more than happy to pitch around Adrian Gonzalez and put young Yasiel Puig in pressure situations. Puig faltered miserably going 0-4 in Game 2, striking out all four times and he’s a combined 0-10 in the first two games of the series.
However, to Puig’s credit, Game 2 was played almost entirely with home plate in brutal shadows. Both Clayton Kershaw and his St. Louis counterpart, Michael Wacha (with a 97 MPH fastball and brutal changeup that sheds 10 mph) were just mowing down hitters in a game that featured only seven hits.
The other key to Game 3 will be Ryu regaining his form. It was a dreadful go of things for Ryu in his Game 3 start of the NLCS as he was tagged for four runs and six hits by the Atlanta Braves in only 3 innings of work. He contributed to his own misfortune with two defensive gaffes, but he was bailed out by an offensive explosion by the Dodgers’ bats and three shutout innings of relief from Chris Capuano.
There had been speculation that Ryu was dealing with an injury leading up to his Game 3 start, but Ryu insists that everything is fine. The Dodgers will need Ryu to pitch just as well as Kershaw and Zack Greinke have this postseason for the Dodgers to have any chance.
Offense will be at a premium against the Cards’ Adam Wainwright. Wainwright pitched a complete game in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Pittsburgh Pirates has a 1.13 ERA in two starts this postseason, with 15 strikeouts and only one walk in 16 innings of work.
The Dodgers must capitalize with runners in scoring position they’re 1-16 overall in the series and haven’t showed the spark they had in the NLDS. With Wainwright on the hill, the Dodgers’ bats must be patient and focused and look to manufacture runs.
The Dodgers have been down 0-2 in a playoff series and come back to win four previous times, most recently the 1981 World Series, so the series is far from over. Ryu will have to deliver the start of his life, otherwise Los Angeles could be looking at an 0-3 deficit and on the brink of elimination.
In case you missed it, here’s what Don Mattingly had to say prior to the NLCS starting.