Dodgers @ Cardinals Oct. 6, 2014: NLDS Game 3, Ryu vs. Lackey

The Dodgers face off against the Cardinals in the rubber match Game 3 of the 2014 NLDS, and they send Hyun Jin Ryu to the mound against John Lackey. More than any concern about how the Cardinals fare against him or what Lackey does with Dodgers hitters is the question of Ryu’s arm health.

Cardinals
Dodgers
6:07 P.M.
St. Louis
3B
Carpenter
2B
Gordon
RF
Grichuk
CF
Puig
LF
Holliday
1B
Gonzalez
SS
Peralta
RF
Kemp
1B
Adams
SS
Ramirez
C
Molina
LF
Crawford
CF
Jay
3B
Uribe
2B
Wong
C
Ellis
P
Lackey (R)
P
Ryu (L)

Ryu and the Dodgers say he’s fine, but after going down the second time with the same shoulder ailment and now coming off a three-week layoff, it’s more than fair to speculate on what exactly he’ll be able to do.

“Overall, I feel really good,” he said through an interpreter. “Compared to the last time I had this injury, I actually took the mound a few more times. I tried to make sure I didn’t do too much or too little. I feel very confident right now. My arm feels really good. My shoulder feels really strong. And I have a pretty good feeling I’ll be able to put in a good game tomorrow.”

Fortunately (I guess), he has experienced long layoffs twice this year that help give us a baseline. Coming off the same shoulder injury on May 21, Ryu pitched against the Mets after missing three weeks and put up a very solid line (6 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR) on 89 pitches. Then on Aug. 31, coming off his strained butt and missing a little over two weeks, he put up a good effort against the Padres (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K) on 84 pitches. Furthermore, if you remember back to last year, there was serious concern about his arm health and whether he’d be able to start in the NLCS against the Cards, and all he did is go out and throw seven shutout innings. That’s all to say you can expect between 80-90 pitches and for him to look relatively sharp, and it actually helps in this instance that he normally would rather not throw bullpens before starts, because Ryu seems to prefer stretches where he doesn’t have to throw.

Most importantly, he has the power of Ottogi Noodle behind him:

That said, if things go poorly, the Dodgers have Dan Haren in reserve. Why? Because Clayton Kershaw is the Game 4 starter on short rest, and Zack Greinke will go in Game 5. We’ll likely take a look at those implications later, but for now, I’ll just say that some of the reactions to NOT starting a replacement-level Dan Haren are hilarious.

As for Lackey, hopefully he pitches more like the guy he’s been with the Cardinals (4.30 ERA/4.27 FIP) than he was with the Red Sox (3.60 ERA/3.56 FIP) or in his postseason career to date (3.03 ERA). Lackey attacks hitters with a fastball, slider, curve mix and flashes an occasional changeup. The change is rarely shown cause when it gets hit, it gets hit hard, and the fastball is a pitch he’s struggled with so far in the NL. Lackey likes to be aggressive with the fastball, pumping in around 75% first-pitch strikes in the NL, and he throws the fastball about 60% of the time, so the Dodgers should look to do damage early before they have to face the slider.

John  Lackey's falling velocity.
John Lackey’s falling velocity.

All in all, it’s hard to predict either way. The 2014 Cardinals have liked to face lefties, but the 2014 Dodgers have liked to face righties. Ryu is coming off a shoulder injury, but Lackey has struggled after the trade partially due to dropping velocity.

Something has got to give, and hopefully it’s something on the Cardinals’ end.

ThrowsRelieverSat 10/15Sun 10/16Mon 10/17Tue 10/18Wed 10/19Thur 10/20Fri 10/21
LAvilan--OFF-2421OFF
RBaez34-OFF-2727OFF
RBlanton28-OFF13-19OFF
LDayton3-OFF16-12OFF
RFields--OFF-910OFF
RJansen-18OFF21--OFF
RStripling10-OFF-2018OFF
LWood--OFF-32-OFF

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times