Astros @ Dodgers Nov. 1, 2017: World Series Game 7

Photo: Sarah Wexler

After the gut punch that was Game 2 … and Game 3 … and Game 5 … wow … the Dodgers are playing in Game 7 of this World Series with a chance to break a 29-year drought. It almost doesn’t seem possible, given the way the series has gone to date.

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

The big thing tonight is, how are the Dodgers going to get to 27 outs? In the regular season or even earlier in the playoffs, they’d lean on a starting pitcher to log anywhere from 5-7 innings. With everything on the line tonight, this will not happen.

Yu Darvish is starting. He’s going to have a chance to redeem himself from the incredibly poor start in Game 3 that saw him record just five outs. Don’t expect him to throw 7-8 innings because that is highly unrealistic right now. Even if he’s dominating the Astros lineup, I think the absolute most you get from him is five innings, but more likely 3-4 innings, if you want to be realistic. Ideally, if Darvish can record 14 outs — one time through the Astros lineup and a second time through the 1-5 of George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel — without getting lit up would be incredible. Fourteen outs amounts to 4 2/3 innings, which is exactly what Rich Hill did in Game 6.

This is possible because the Dodgers have Alex Wood and Clayton Kershaw available, so a quick hook would not be unrealistic. If Darvish is pulled at 14 outs, perhaps Tony Cingrani (who didn’t throw in Game 6) or Tony Watson gets the final out of whatever inning it ends up being against Brian McCann, Marwin Gonzalez or Josh Reddick. That would allow Wood (or whomever) to begin the next inning with a clean slate.

Wood will be on three days rest, meaning he’s almost as fresh as possible. He could be in line for 2-3 innings, depending on the situation. If Dave Roberts needs to dip into the pure relievers earlier, Brandon Morrow and/or Kenta Maeda would be first up to get some of the Astros’ righties. They could be backed up by Cingrani and/or Watson before turning the game over to Wood. Morrow and Maeda won’t be available for long — maybe 1-2 outs each — depending on the situation.

The key is for Darvish to make it through the Houston lineup at least once and preferably through the first five hitters for at least a second time. Game 3 was an aberration, and this will be Darvish’s first start at home during these playoffs, for whatever that’s worth.

The big question is when will Kershaw pitch. It isn’t a question of “if.”

As theatrical as it would be, ala Game 5 of the 2016 NLDS, this may not happen if it’s a tight game and if the Astros’ 1-5 hitters are due up. That inning would still belong to Kenley Jansen, provided he hasn’t already pitched.

So, what does this road map look like? Let’s draw it out.

  • Darvish: 9-14 outs
  • Wood: 6-9 outs
  • Morrow: 1-2 outs
  • Maeda: 1-2 outs
  • Watson & Cingrani: 3-5 outs
  • Jansen: 3 outs

On the high end, that’s 37 outs. Provided the game doesn’t go into extra innings, that’s more than enough without Kershaw. On the low end, that’s 23 outs. Odds are, it’ll probably fall a little short of that, which means there are a few outs for Kershaw sometime in this game. With an extra day of rest, this isn’t like a Washington situation (two outs), but don’t expect Kershaw to be ready to throw 4-5 innings. I’m guessing Kershaw will get a look at two innings, and maybe a third, depending how the first two go.

I might be a bit conservative with my workload for some of these guys, but with basically everyone available tonight, there is no margin for error. There is no chance to see if a guy can work out of things. At the first sign of trouble, a pitcher should be yanked with two ready to replace him at all times. That’s how this thing should go down tonight.

Of course, things would go a lot more smoothly if the offense can get after the Astros’ pitchers. Speaking of the offense…

The lineup is the same one Roberts employed last night. It’s probably the best one he could construct at this point. The fact Joc Pederson has rediscovered how to hit like a dangerous hitter has helped the lineup lengthen and help make up for Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Austin Barnes‘ struggles in the series. Pederson is a double-switch candidate, as there might be a bit of that going on because of the pitching, but while he’s in there, he’s as dangerous as any Dodger hitter right now. They’re going to have to jump on Lance McCullers‘ fastball and lay off the low curveball, something I looked at ahead of his first start in the series.

The Astros are also running out the same lineup as they did in Game 6. They still have the game’s best offense, so the Dodger pitchers are going to have to be on their A-game tonight if they’re going to break the championship drought.

——

Hopefully that’s all they did to relax.

Sarah wrote some really good words on Pederson and his postseason resurgence.

She good.

As speculated upon above. Don’t worry, he won’t be needed.

Alanna Rizzo is the absolute best.

——

Well, this is it. This is what we as fans have waited 7-8 months for. This is what the players have worked since February for. Game 7 between two great teams for the World Series title. It doesn’t get anymore high-leverage than this.

Having said that, I just have one thing to add: Just win.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.