Following an epic Justin Turner walk-off home run, the Los Angeles Dodgers head to Chicago up two games to none over the Cubs in the NLCS.
29 years to the date. 29 years after Kirk Gibson blasted the most replayed moment in Dodger history, third baseman Justin Turner sent a three-run home run into the seats to give the Dodgers a two-game lead in the NLCS over the defending champion Chicago Cubs. The Dodgers have all the momentum to make noise in Chicago.
Thus far, the postseason has been good to the Los Angeles Dodgers. October has been good to the Dodgers. Even with Corey Seager not on the roster the Dodgers were able to jump out to a 2-0 series lead.
Los Angeles is 6-0 thus far in the season. Through their first six games played last October, the team was 3-3. The Dodgers have not trailed often either the NLDS or the NLCS, and when they did, a comeback ensued. In 54 innings played, Los Angeles has only trailed for four full innings.
This is exactly the kind of confidence the team needs heading into Wrigley Field for a three-game set. Chicago was 48-33 at home this season and was 2-1 against the Dodgers at home. Los Angeles needs two wins to clinch the series, but one may suffice as the team would then have two chances to take it home in LA.
However, this is not the same Dodgers team that played the Cubs in April. Right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish is a key difference between this team and April’s team.
Darvish’s career as a Dodger has been a rollercoaster, without a doubt. Overall, Darvish posted a 4-3 record with a 3.44 ERA. As Dodger fans know, however, Darvish was either lights out or threw batting practice.
In games that the Dodgers won while Darvish was on the mound, he owned a 1.69 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 32 innings. In games that the Dodgers lost, Darvish has a 6.63 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched. At times, fans had no idea what to expect out of Darvish.
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However, on the bright side, Darvish was dealing in game three of the NLDS against the red-hot Diamondbacks offense. Darvish threw five innings, allowed just one run on a solo shot that was one of two hits (the other being a bunt) and seven strikeouts.
With a bullpen that has been nothing short of outstanding this series, that is all the Dodgers really need out of Darvish. Five scoreless innings may be enough for the Dodgers to get a victory. Six or more innings is preferred, but with the bullpen, five is plenty.
The problem is we have no idea how Darvish will do. Darvish did not face this Cubs team at all this season. This is the same Cubs team, after all, that rebounded from two straight shutouts in last year’s NLCS to outscore the Dodgers 23-6 in the last three games.
However, this is also the same Cubs team that is hitting .252 against right-handers this season; 12 points worse than they do against southpaws. The right-handed heavy bullpen has been eating up the Cubs’ bats this series. This could be a telling sign to how Darvish will pitch.
At the end of the day, game three is really up in the air. Kyle Hendricks is taking the ball for Chicago in game three Much like Darvish, Hendricks has been unhittable or rocked this postseason. At the end of the day, this game could come down to the bullpens yet again; we know what team has had the advantage there.