After coming back to Dodger Stadium down 2-0 in the NLCS, the Dodgers were desperate for a win. Hyun-Jin Ryu delivered an impressive performance and the Dodgers beat the Cardinals 3-0 to cut their series lead to 2-1.
Today, the Dodgers will look to Ricky Nolasco in hopes he can deliver in front of his hometown crowd. When first acquired from the Miami Marlins on June 6, Nolasco was spectacular for the Dodgers in his first 12 starts, going 8-1 with a 2.07 ERA.
However, Nolasco struggled in his last three starts, giving up 12 earned runs and 24 hits in 12 innings pitched. Overall, Nolasco finished the season with a 13-11 record and a 3.70 ERA, but his performance at the end of the season really affected his place in the postseason rotation.
It wasn’t guaranteed that Nolasco would get the start in Game 4, especially after being scratched in Game 4 of the NLDS in favor of Clayton Kershaw, on three days rest. Don Mattingly was willing to send Zack Greinke on three days rest if the Dodgers would’ve gone down 3-0, but since the Dodgers won Game 3, they need at least one start from Nolasco.
This season, Nolasco was much better at home and having him pitch in St. Louis for either Game 6 or 7 was simply not an option, so Game 4 is the best chance for him to impact this series in a positive way.
He isn’t only pitching to give the Dodgers their second win of the series, but the native Angelino is also pitching for a new contract. He’s in the last year of a three year, $26.5 million dollar contract and his impending free agency should motivate him to perform and earn himself a lofty new contract. This will definitely be the most important start of his career, coupled with the fact that this was his childhood dream, the Dodgers are hopeful Nolasco can deliver his best performance yet.
The Cardinals will counter with right hander Lance Lynn, who already has a win in this series by pitching two scoreless innings of relief in Game 1. During the regular season, Lynn was 15-10 overall and had a 3.97 ERA, but he’s been better against the Dodgers, posting a 2-0 record with a 2.50 ERA. Lynn throws a 92-95 mph four seam fastball and also has a two seamer, cutter, and a curveball in his pitching repertoire.
Lynn’s last start in the postseason was Game 2 of the NLDS against the Pirates and he struggled. Lynn went 4.1 innings, allowing five earned runs and seven hits on his way to his second consecutive postseason loss. He also pitched in last year’s NLCS and was on the hill for Game 5 with the Cardinals up 3-1 having an opportunity to send the Cardinals to the World Series. Lynn would end up allowing four runs in 3.2 innings and not only did he lose the game, but the Cardinals would lose the next two games and their ticket to the World Series.
The Dodgers offense finally showed signs of life last night. After going 1-16 with runners in scoring position in the first two games, the Dodgers went 3 for 11 and snapped a 22 inning scoreless streak. Although they still left some runners on base, it was promising to see the Dodgers finally get some timely hits and put some runs on the board.
The Dodgers will need to continue to improve offensively in order to knot the series at two. Nolasco needs an early cushion so he can let go of the nerves and just pitch his game. Yasiel Puig finally broke out of his 0-11 slump, going 2 for 3 with a triple and an RBI last night in Game 3.
Expect Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez to produce, but the key for the Dodgers will be their role players. Juan Uribe, Mark and A.J. Ellis must find a way to deliver and get on base. If they can contribute with some big hits early, the Dodgers will be on their way to their second victory of the series and on to Game 5 with an opportunity to take the series lead.
In case you missed it, here’s the latest with RallyBear from NLCS Game 3!