After exploding for 13 runs and 14 hits in Game 3 last night, the Dodgers look to close out the series tonight at Chavez Ravine and head to the NLCS for the first time since 2009.
In Game 3, the Dodgers overcame an ineffective Hyun-Jin Ryu and chased Braves’ starter Julio Teheran before cruising along to a lopsided victory.
For Game 4, the Dodgers would like to end the series and begin preparing for the next round. In order to do that, manager Don Mattingly must be ready for anything, making him the X-Factor for tonight’s game.
The Dodgers manager already has made his first bold move in trying to secure a series victory by electing to start ace Clayton Kershaw on three days’ rest.
Mattingly can be satisfied with the position his team is in at the moment, but he can’t get too comfortable in that position.
The Dodgers must do all they can to win tonight. A win in Game 4 saves a trip to Atlanta, saves Zack Greinke for a Game 1 NLCS start and saves the Dodgers from a win-or-go-home Game 5, where anything can happen.
Hours before tonight’s Game 4 matchup, it was decided that the Dodgers would send their Cy Young frontrunner to the mound to close out the series. Kershaw has never thrown on short rest, but it’s clear that the Dodgers’ staff believes he can do it.
Mattingly has seemingly made all the right moves so far, as his team is up 2-1, but fans may look back to the seventh inning of Game 2 and believe that this series should be over. The Dodger manager relied on his style of playing the matchups, rather than trust his pitchers and attack a weaker hitter.
However, in Game 3, Mattingly made the right choice in pulling Ryu after three innings for a pinch-hitter and letting long reliever Chris Capuano take over. Capuano rewarded Mattingly with three shutout innings settling the game and saving the bullpen.
In Game 4, Mattingly must pull out all the stops in order to end the series. This began with the Kershaw decision and must extend throughout the game. If runs are at a premium, Mattingly must play for runs any chance the Dodgers get.
Of course, Mattingly may only do so much and it is up to the players to get the job done, but the Dodger manager must put them in the right position to succeed and advance.
In case you missed it, here’s the Dodgers pool celebration, PLUS Yasiel Puig’s celebration dance off!