Dodgers: Three keys to take a 3-0 NLCS lead in game three

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15: Justin Turner (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15: Justin Turner (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Dodgers head into the Windy City with their heads held high after maintaining their home-field advantage in the first two games of the National League Championship Series.

Even though it was in spectacular fashion, the Dodgers found a way to get two wins in two games at Dodger Stadium this past weekend. The second win was capped off by a three-run walk-off home run by third baseman Justin Turner.

Now the Dodgers face a golden opportunity to take a 3-0 lead on the defending World Series champions and put them on the brink of elimination. They send newly acquired All-Star Yu Darvish to the mound to face off against Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks.

1. Yu Darvish must avoid any early-inning mistakes.

Japanese superstar Yu Darvish is known for having mind-boggling pitches with excellent spin while countering it with being able to locate a fastball that hovers around 95 mph. Darvish is 4-3 since being traded to the Dodgers with a 3.44 ERA. He is coming off a game where he pitched five strong innings in a series-clinching Game 3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division Series.

The biggest reason why Darvish enjoyed that success was that he avoided any early-inning slipups. Darvish is a pitcher who improves as the game goes on once he starts to find his rhythm. Darvish’s opponents are hitting just .080 on pitches 61-75 of his outings. If Darvish manages to work into the fifth inning once again, the Cubs could be in for a long night.

2. Continue to keep Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo from putting baseballs in the seats.

The two biggest catalysts for Chicago’s improbable 2016 World Series run have gone silent in the series so far against the Dodgers. Much of this credit can be given to the Dodger pitchers who have jammed Rizzo with fastballs inside, and overwhelmed Bryant with a constant mix of fastballs and breaking balls.

Luckily for the Cubs sluggers, both have more than 20 of their home runs this season against right-handed pitching. After the Dodgers sent two lefties to the mound in games one and two, it’ll be up to the right arm of Yu Darvish to continue to keep the Cubs’ big bats at bay.

3. Increase production from catcher and second base positions.

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In the first two games of the series, Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes have filled the starting positions of second base and catcher, respectively. Together, they have combined for just one hit in 11 at-bats. This lack of production at the bottom of the order is contrary to the output that Yasiel Puig and Charlie Culberson have provided for the Dodgers.

In reality, the Cubs offensive struggles are not sustainable, especially as they head home to Wrigley Field. The Dodgers will need all of their bats to wake up, as Justin Turner might not be able to save the day again.

It’ll be interesting to see if Dave Roberts sticks with Forsythe and Barnes at their positions, or chooses to give the nod to players like Chase Utley and Yasmani Grandal.

Next: Yu Darvish remains a question mark

The Dodgers have a golden opportunity to destroy the Cubs’ spirits with a win on their home field Tuesday night. If they execute these keys to the game, there is no reason they can’t head into a fourth game ahead 3-0 in the series.