Game 3 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks might turn out to be a classic at Chase Field.
Both teams are turning to their highly touted right-handed starting pitchers; two professionals that have put on some of the greatest displays in history during their respective careers. Zack Greinke and Yu Darvish’s 2017 regular season records are completely different, but their approach to the game of baseball is so inextricably similar that it’s scary.
Greinke was pictured as the savior for the Diamondbacks after he signed that $206.5 million offseason contract two years ago. Los Angeles made a blockbuster move and acquired Darvish at the very last minute of this year’s trade deadline. This pair is highly appreciated because they are simply different, strange, and bring unique dynamics to their clubhouses.
This duel will ultimately be the deciding factor Monday evening, and that’s why this is the most compelling matchup of the NLDS so far.
Darvish was asked if pitching in this postseason appearance and at Chase Field will have any effect on his new mechanics, and if he’ll be able to ignore any nervousness or pressure that could render his performance during an interview after a workout day at Dodger Stadium. Here’s what he had to say:
Right now I cannot say much about it because you don’t know unless you go on the mound and you start throwing it. Like you mentioned, I changed my mechanics and all that, so that may move differently. But, like I said, you never know until you get on the mound and see how you move. So I want to go out there, and if I see something, I’ll make my adjustments.
I think it will benefit me because they haven’t seen me pitch like I do now, like the last time we faced them, and then now how I pitch is different. So I think that’s going to benefit me. Of course the pitches, like certain pitches were different, and then my approach is different too. So I think that’s going to benefit going towards tomorrow.
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He picked up a win in his lone appearance against Arizona this season, going five innings and giving up two runs. However, I think it’s safe to say that his performance will need to be even better Monday evening. Darvish struck out Paul Goldschmidt three times, and didn’t allow him to get on base, but J.D. Martinez was able to hit a home run. If he’s going to be successful against them, and that dangerous batting order, then he’ll need to be prepared as soon as he throws the first pitch of the night.
Expect him to speed up the pace, simplify delivery, control that exceptional command, and even tweak mechanics during the game. His precision and need to be perfect can hurt him at times, but this is a moment that he’s been craving for quite some time. The second phase of the Dodgers arsenal will provide a boost, especially if he can hold his own, and produce a strong outing against Arizona.
He was also a member of the Dodgers’ organization for quite some time, and can use that history to his advantage. However, this Dodgers team is very different than the ones he was a part of, and he might struggle because of that. The Boys in Blue are loaded with depth, and have a unique mix of talent that is unlike any other team in baseball.
In the Wild Card Game against the Rockies, Greinke allowed four runs in 3.2 innings, but he has been solid all year long against the Dodgers. In four starts against Los Angeles this year, Greinke is 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA and has held Dodgers batters to a .247 batting average. His last two starts against the Dodgers have been especially good. In both starts combined, Greinke went 13 innings, struck out 12 batters, and gave up just two runs on eight hits.
Cody Bellinger, Yasmani Grandal and Curtis Granderson have all hit a home run against Greinke this year, and Roberts will definitely depend on them to create quality at-bats on Monday. Chase Utley should get the start at second base, and if he and Corey Seager can grind out quality at-bats early, then the Dodgers will be in great shape.
So the stage is set for what is expected to be a Blue October classic. This is an elimination game so expect all-out performances from both ball clubs. It’ll be a hostile environment in Phoenix, with some of the game’s most impressive stars battling against each other until the final out is recorded.
Arizona got what they wanted all along, a chance to face baseball’s best team. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have always focused on the big picture, and have their eyes set on a World Series title. Hopefully Yu Darvish can help them complete the sweep against the pesky Diamondbacks at Chase Field.