Boy, that was fun last night. It’d be quite good if tonight was a repeat performance — at least, for the offense.
On the mound, Tony Gonsolin gets the call. He appeared in Game 7 of the NLCS and threw 41 pitches in in 2+ innings. Because of that, he’ll be limited in tonight’s outing.
|P||Snell (L)||P||Gonsolin (R)|
The hope is that he can turn the lineup over once without incident. Best-case scenario is he throws three innings, but a 2-inning outing might be satisfactory enough, as long as the damage isn’t substantial (and hopefully non-existent).
Dustin May and Julio Urias are available out of the bullpen. While a repeat of Game 7 is tempting, I’m not sure it’s fully necessary or smart. If one them follow Gonsolin at some point, that would make the other the defacto Game 4 starter. Seeing as May has been more accustomed to this role and Urias is a bit more stretched out, I’d opt for May to be first up. If he do something similar to what the Dodgers want Gonsolin to do — 2-3 innings — that could turn the game over to a mostly rested Dodger bullpen. He also threw just 18 pitches in Game 7, so he’s the most rested of the trio.
Of course, if the Dodgers hit enough, the pitching strategy will not be as important, per se. I’m confident in saying eight runs would be enough in this one. But the Dodgers are facing the Rays’ best pitcher in Blake Snell. The 2018 AL Cy Young award winner is hoping to neutralize a potent Dodger offense that has struggled at times against left-handed pitching (but have been better of late).
Snell does a lot of his damage outside the strike zone. He induced a chase rate of 35.5% on the season — a Top 10 mark. Unfortunately for him, the Dodgers are the best team in the majors at not swinging out of the zone (26.5%). This has been evident as the postseason has gone along. The Dodgers grind out plate appearances and make pitchers work a ton. They did so in Game 7 of the LCS and in last night’s Game 1 win. Snell pitched better against the Blue Jays and Astros than he did against the Yankees. The Blue Jays were the 12th-best at not chasing, while the Astros were middle-of-the-pack. The Yankees were second to the Dodgers, and Snell gave up four runs on three homers in five innings of his Game 1 ALDS start.
Like Game 1 starter Tyler Glasnow, Snell is prone to the home run ball. He allowed 10 in 50 regular-season innings in 2020 (1/8 HR/9). In the postseason, he’s running the same rate — 4 in 19 2/3 innings, 1.83 HR/9, so that’s something to watch.
Enrique Hernandez gets the call at second base with a lefty on the bump. AJ Pollock is in for Joc Pederson, and he’ll be the DH. Chris Taylor moves from second base to left field, as he did late in the game last night. Will Smith moves back behind the plate. In other words, the Dodgers’ standard lineup against lefties.
The Rays line up a slightly different look tonight with a righty starting. Austin Meadows moves into the leadoff spot as the DH. He hit that long fly ball that Cody Bellinger caught at the wall in the ninth inning in Game 1. Ji-Man Choi replaces Yandy Diaz at first base and moves into the cleanup spot. Everything else remains the same.
Just in case you were wondering.
But seriously … if I recall correctly from the Game 2 broadcast of the 2017 World Series (I’m sorry), the team that goes up 2-0 in the series goes onto win the series 85% of the time. In all playoff series, it’s 83.9%. In the current 2-3-2 format, 23 of 26 have gone onto win (88.5%). So, yeah, let’s do that.
We’re basically become a T-shirt boutique, so if you want to liven up your wardrobe, we aren’t gonna stop ya.
First pitch is at 5:08 p.m. Pacific time on FOX.