Dodgers @ Astros Oct. 27, 2017: World Series Game 3

(Via)

Although it’s been nearly two days since that utterly chaotic Game 2, I’m not sure we’ve had enough time to emotionally process it. But nevertheless, there’s more baseball to be played. With the series tied at a game apiece, the Dodgers and Astros are guaranteed to play three games in Houston.

This is the Dodgers’ first trip to Minute Maid Park since August of 2015, when they got no-hit by Mike Fiers and also swept. They’re hoping this time around, things will go a bit more favorably.

Dodgers
Astros
5:20 p.m. FOX
Houston
CF
Taylor
CF
Springer
SS
Seager
3B
Bregman
3B
Turner
2B
Altuve
1B
Bellinger
SS
Correa
RF
Puig
1B
Gurriel
2B
Forsythe
RF
Reddick
C
Barnes DH Gattis
DH
Pederson
LF
González
LF
Hernández
C
McCann
P
Darvish (R)
P
McCullers (R)

On the mound for L.A. is someone fairly used to pitching against the Astros: Yu Darvish (3.86 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 3.08 DRA). As a member of the Rangers, Darvish made 14 career starts against the Astros dating back to 2012. He faced them twice this season, once in Arlington (5 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 8 K) and once in Houston (7 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 4 K).

These are obviously small sample sizes, so take them with grains of salt, but here’s what Astros hitters have done against Darvish in the past:

As a refresher, Darvish has allowed just one run and struck out seven in each of his two postseason starts. Daniel wrote earlier today about Darvish’s cutter usage and how it’s likely to factor into his game plan tonight, if you want some additional insight on what to expect.

Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. (4.25 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 3.52 DRA) started against the Dodgers during that 2015 series. In seven innings pitched, the then-rookie righty allowed two runs on eight hits while striking out eight. That’s the only time he’s ever faced them.

The 2017 Dodgers are less interested in that than in what McCullers has done this year, though, both in the regular season and the postseason. The 24-year-old McCullers missed time this year with lower back discomfort, but when he was pitching, he was quite a bit better than his ERA indicates. His strikeout (25.8 K%) and walk (7.8 BB%) rates are better than average, and he hasn’t been all that susceptible to the home run ball, thanks in part to a groundball rate of 61.3 percent.

McCullers has made three appearances this postseason, two in relief and one as a starter. He’s allowed three runs on six hits and five walks, while striking out 13.

One thing they can expect from him tonight is a lot of of his signature curveball. Per Brooks Baseball, McCullers threw his curveball for nearly half of his pitches this year. It yielded a swing rate of 53 percent and a whiff rate of 19 percent. As many baseball pundits have noted, he closed out Game 7 of the ALCS by throwing 24 consecutive curveballs. Dustin wrote in more depth about that pitch (as well as Game 4 starter Charlie Morton‘s curveball). A key takeaway from his piece: the Dodgers are good at hitting curveballs, so this may work out in their favor.

While there was some speculation that Corey Seager may serve as designated hitter for these games, the Dodgers seem to think he’s well enough to keep playing at short. Instead, Joc Pederson will be tonight’s Dodger DH. Originally, he was starting in left field and Enrique Hernández originally slotted in at DH (thanks to McCullers’ reverse splits), but the Dodgers swapped them around.

——

Looking ahead, it appears Game 5 will be a rematch between Clayton Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel:

Tomorrow night’s starter, Morton, had a rather interesting take on the Dodgers’ roster:

Morton apparently thinks the year is 2007, not 2017.

About Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler is a native Angeleno and longtime Dodger fan. She began blogging about baseball in 2012 on her Tumblr, New Grass On The Field, where she covered an array of topics but especially enjoyed exploring baseball history. She now writes for The Hardball Times, FanGraphs and Sporting News, and co-hosts a podcast, The Hardball Times Audio. She recently earned her master’s degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor’s in History and a minor in American Studies. She’s an avid Springsteen fan, which is a big boost to her baseball writer cred.