The Dodgers dropped Game 1 of the NLDS last night in pretty awful fashion. Walker Buehler wasn’t quite dominant, but did enough to keep the Dodgers in the game. The Dodger bats refused to cooperate, as they hardly put any pressure on Giant starter Logan Webb. The Dodgers never got more than one runner on base in any inning and only had one baserunner reach third. Webb only needed 92 pitches to strike out 10 Dodgers over 7 2/3 shutout innings, and the Giants as a whole only needed 103 pitches to record 27 outs. It was one of the worse displays of offense the Dodgers have shown in some time, so surely today has to be better. Right?
|6:05 PM||San Francisco|
|P||Urias (L)||P||Gausman (R)|
Julio Urias gets the Game 2 start for the Dodgers. Urias warmed up in the bullpen in Wednesday’s Wild Card game, but the Dodgers were able to avoid using him. While Max Scherzer and Walker Buehler didn’t quite look like themselves towards the end of the season, Urias was excellent in September. Urias made six starts in September and the Dodgers won all six, with Urias getting the win in five of them to become the only 20-game winner in the Majors. The only bad start Urias had in September came at Coors Field, where he allowed four runs in six innings. In his other 29 innings in September, Urias allowed a total of four runs. Two of those five starts came against Arizona, but the other starts came against the Padres, Giants and Brewers. It was Urias’ fifth start against the Giants in 2021, and he was excellent in four of the five. The Giants were also responsible for Urias’ worst start of the season, as they scored seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits in five innings on May 29 in LA. If you remove that start from the equation, Urias threw 24 1/3 innings against the Giants in the other four starts and allowed 20 hits and five earned runs.
Down the stretch, Urias started to lose some velocity on his fastball. It wasn’t a huge surprise, as he threw more than 100 innings more in the 2021 regular season than he had in any other Major League season. He averaged 94.1 MPH on his fastball in 2021, but had two September starts where that fastball averaged 92.8 and 92.4 MPH. He did ramp it back up in his final start of the season to 94.7, but that’s something to keep in mind. The Dodgers pulled Urias earlier than expected from a few games to save some pitches, and he only threw more than 100 pitches once and more than 90 pitches 11 times in his 32 starts.
Kevin Gausman gets the ball for the Giants. Gausman had a career renaissance this season, posting a 2.81 ERA/3.00 FIP in 192 innings. However, it was a tale of two halves for the 30-year-old righty. Gausman made his first career All-Star game with a stellar first half. In 114 2/3 innings before the break, Gausman had a 1.73 ERA and opponents held a triple-slash line of .159/.218/.258 against him. He was carried by a low BABIP (.213), but Gausman looked dominant in the first half. He wasn’t quite able to sustain that in the second half. After the break, Gausman threw 77 1/3 innings (nearly 40 fewer than in the first half). He posted a 4.42 ERA in the second half, allowing 38 earned runs after allowing 22 in the 114 2/3 before the break. Opponents slashed .276/.322/.458 in the second half off Gausman, with a slugging percentage less than .20 points less than his first half OPS against.
Gausman turned in his shortest start of the season in his first start after the break, against the Dodgers. He held the Dodgers to only two runs in three innings, but needed 80 pitches to record the nine outs. In his first look at the Dodgers back in May, Gausman allowed two hits over six shutout innings. He didn’t have as much success in his second start against them in June, as he allowed three runs and a season-high five walks in five innings.
Gausman is primarily a two-pitch pitcher. He throws a fastball 52.7 percent of the time and it averages 94.6 MPH. Gausman is exceptional when his splitter is working. He throws it 35.3 percent of the time and it had a 45.9 percent whiff rate. If Gausman lands the splitter and gets a favorable low strike zone, he could look about as unhittable as Webb’s changeup did last night.
A bit of a lineup change for the Dodgers. Last night Dave Roberts said Chris Taylor would start in center and Cody Bellinger would start at first. Bellinger still hits ahead of AJ Pollock, who starts in left and bats eighth tonight. The Giants also made some changes, as LaMonte Wade Jr and Mike Yastrzemski both sit against a lefty. Darin Ruf starts in left and leads off, with Kris Bryant moving over to center and Austin Slater getting the start in right.
Pollock starts tonight despite looking pretty lost at the plate both last night and in the Wild Card game.
The Dodgers would have been lost on offense at times in the regular season if not for Pollock. He’s definitely earned some leeway, but he’s had his share of struggles in previous postseasons as well. Not like many Dodger bats have looked good in their two playoff games this season, but still. Tonight could be a good matchup for Pollock, as Gausman only threw a slider 5.9 percent of the time this season.
An update for those of you attending Game 3 Monday (and hopefully at least a Game 4 in LA as well).
The Dodgers are now requiring proof of vaccination or a negative covid test within 72 hours to attend the game.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:07 PM PDT and will be shown on TBS.