Dodgers “@” Padres: NLDS Game 3 – May vs. Morejon (and the bullpens)

Hopefully everyone got a good night’s sleep as we have now reached the point in this year’s NLDS that gets both a little weird and possibly more stressful thanks to the imagine above.

As Joe Davis so helpfully pointed out as last night’s game came to a close, teams who lead a five-game series 2-0 win 90% of the time and only three times in the past 15 years has a team rallied to come back.

The Dodgers bat first as they are now the road team for tonight’s Game 3, the third consecutive day these teams will play one another. While the Dodgers finally announced they are sending Tony Gonsolin Dustin May to the mound for the potential clincher, the Padres are turning back to Adrian Morejon to open the game.

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6:08 p.m. Arlington
RF Betts CF Grisham (L)
SS Seager (L) SS Tatis Jr.
3B Turner 3B Machado
1B Muncy (L) 1B Hosmer (L)
C Smith LF Pham
CF Bellinger (L) DH Moreland (L)
LF Pollock RF Myers
DH Pederson (L) 2B Cronenworth (L)
2B Taylor C Castro (L)
P May (R) P Morejon (L)

That’s pretty much what you’d expect at this point.

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You might remember Morejon from his appearance in Game 3 of the West Series back on Sept. 16. The 21-year-old lefty threw two innings to open that game, needing 38 pitches as the Dodgers extended a few at-bats even if it led to three strikeouts. 

AJ Pollock’s 426-foot homer to center gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the second, the only run to come against Morejon in his quick appearance.

Following that game, Morejon’s final three regular season appearances didn’t go as smoothly. Morejon allowed 6 runs in 6 2/3 IP., which included 5 home runs and 8 strikeouts. Entering in relief of an injured Mike Clevinger on Sept. 23, Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton and Anthony Benboom all connected on homers in the 2nd inning.

Things went much better for Morejon in the Wild Card Series against the Cardinals, with the Padres turning to Morejon as they faced elimination in Games 2 and 3. Taking over in the 4th inning of each game, he combined to pitch 3 innings and allowed just one hit to two strikeouts.

Given that Morejon still hasn’t gone past 3 innings or 41 pitches this season, here’s a look at where the entire Padres’ pitching staff stands following the first two games of the series.

PitcherGame 1, Oct. 6Game 2, Oct. 7
Austin Adams1/3 IP, 10 pitches
Dan Altavilla1 IP, 20 pitches
Zach Davies5 IP, 73 pitches
Tim Hill2/3 IP, 19 pitches
Pierce Johnson1 1/3 IP, 19 pitches1/3 IP, 10 pitches
Adrian Morejon
Chris Paddack
Emilio Pagán1 IP, 10 pitches
Luis Patiño1 IP, 10 pitches
Drew Pomeranz2/3 IP, 10 pitches
Garrett Richards2/3 IP, 27 pitches
Trevor Rosenthal
Craig Stammen1 1/3 IP, 13 pitches
Matt Strahm1/3 IP, 13 pitches
Ryan Weathers1 1/3 IP, 30 pitches

In the four games Morejon started this season, the Padres needed 7, 6, 9 and again 7 pitchers to finish out the game. Impressively, they were also 3-1 in those games.

Some of the most common pitchers to eventually follow in those four games were Pagan (4 games), Stammen (3 games) and Hill (3 games). The trio unsurprisingly also faced the Dodgers relatively often, with Stammen appearing in 5 of the meetings this year, and Pagan and Hill seeing the Dodgers 4 times.

While the other two struggled a bit in their few innings against Los Angeles, Pagan held the Dodgers hitless in 12 at-bats during the regular season, with 4 strikeouts and just 1 walk. Couple that with last night’s 1-2-3 inning on 10 pitches and it seems like he’s an obvious choice to get an inning at some point in this game, especially if there’s a need to escape anything early on.

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After Dave Roberts stalled on declaring a starter last night, the Dodgers finally announced May would open up tonight’s game earlier this morning.

May, who threw 27 pitches across 2 innings in Game 1, faces the Padres for the fifth time this season. That’s more than he’s seen any other team, with 17 1/3 IP. While he allowed 4 homers to the Padres during the regular season, he struck out 16 to 4 walks. His two highest strikeout totals of the season came against the Padres, with 8 on Aug. 4 and 6 on Sept. 16 (the same game mentioned above as Morejon started it).

The latter there was out of the bullpen after Brusdar Graterol and Adam Kolarek opened up the game.

I’m not really thrilled with the reluctance at to start Gonsolin here, but I suppose we will see what the plan is to eat up innings after May. Much of Daniel’s point below is the feeling I have as well.

Turning back to May, he picked back up his cutter usage in the final three games of the season according to Brooks Baseball.

That relief appearance against the Padres included just one cutter before he went back to 18 against the A’s and 11 against the Angels. It is a pretty direct correlation between the cutter and four-seamer rising and falling while his sinker naturally the go-to regardless of right-handed (61.2%) or left-handed (43.1%).

The Dodgers have yet to use Pedro Baez, Dylan Floro, Kolarek, or Jake McGee (!!!) in the series in addition to Julio Urias and Gonsolin. Victor Gonzalez also threw just 14 pitches on Tuesday, so I’d expect he could appear as well.

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As for who won’t be available and what might be ahead in the future…

From last night, Bill Plunkett sent this out:

And Roberts followed up with declining to make any definitive decisions on Jansen’s role in high-leverage situations going forward.

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First pitch from Arlington is set for 3:08 PM HST/6:08 PM PST/9:08 PM EST and is on MLB Network tonight because why not put an elimination game between two teams with the best and third-best records in the league on that channel.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore
Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.