Giants @ Dodgers 2021 NLDS Game 3: Alex Wood vs. Max Scherzer

After a very deflating shutout loss in Game 1 of the NLDS, the Dodgers bounced back strong in Game 2, with a huge 9-2 win in San Francisco on Saturday night. Splitting the first two games in San Francisco against Kevin Gausman and Logan Webb was huge. Webb was unhittable on Friday, but the Dodgers won’t have to worry about him if they win the next two games at home. These are the two best teams in baseball, and after that split in San Francisco, it’s now essentially a best of three series, with the first two being in Los Angeles. Max Scherzer is the Game 3 starter for the Dodgers, while old friend Alex Wood will be making his first postseason start for the Giants.

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6:37 PM Los Angeles
2B La Stella (L) RF Betts
RF Yastrzemski (L) 2B T. Turner
C Posey SS Seager (L)
SS Crawford (L) 3B J. Turner
1B Bryant CF Taylor
LF Wade Jr. (L) LF Pollock
3B Longoria 1B Pujols
CF Duggar (L) C Smith
P Wood (L) P Scherzer (R)

The Dodgers’ offense ended the season sixth in baseball in OPS (.783) and wRC+ (111) against left-handed pitching this season, despite struggling against southpaws early in the season. Cody Bellinger has obviously struggled this season, and particularly so against left-handed pitching, so Albert Pujols will get the start today against the left-handed Wood. If Max Muncy were healthy, he would be starting, but as the other options at first base are primarily Bellinger and Matt Beaty, Pujols is the best option. He has a .953 OPS and a 149 wRC+ against left-handed pitching with the Dodgers, the third best marks on the team. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Muncy was their second best batter against left-handed pitching this season, with a 158 wRC+ and .961 OPS against them. However, even without Muncy there are no slouches in this lineup.

The best weapon the team has against left-handed pitching is Trea Turner, who had a 220 wRC+ against LHP with the Dodgers, slashing .365/.421/.808, good for a 1.229 OPS. That brings his season totals against LHP to a slash of .392/.437/.712, an 1.150 OPS and 201 wRC+. After that, all the starting position players in the lineup feature strong performances against LHP, in Corey Seager (.919 OPS, 147 wRC+), Chris Taylor (.897 OPS, 141 wRC+), and Mookie Betts (.858 OPS, 132 wRC+), followed by AJ Pollock (.872 OPS, 131 wRC+), and Justin Turner (.818 OPS, 120 wRC+).

The weakest batter in the starting lineup against left-handed pitching is Will Smith, who had just a 93 wRC+ and .732 OPS against right-handed pitching this season. He has reverse splits, with a 144 wRC+ and .912 OPS against right-handed pitching. However, since the All-Star Break, Smith has slashed .300/.404/.625, with a 167 wRC+ against left-handed pitching in 47 plate appearances, and a 1.153 OPS in his last 41 plate appearances. Seager also has a 1.000 OPS and 166 wRC+ against lefties since his return from the Injured List. He’s also killed them in September, to the tune of a .484/.514/.774 slash over the last month and 35 plate appearances.

The Giants have also had a formidable offense this season. Against right-handed pitching, their 116 wRC+ is tied with the Houston Astros for the best in baseball, while their .799 OPS is second. Their best batter against right-handed pitching was Brandon Belt, who owned a 1.008 OPS and 165 wRC+ against them. After that, Brandon Crawford had a 156 wRC+ and .961 OPS this season against right-handed pitching, despite career numbers of 101 wRC+ and .742 OPS against RHP in 3,913 career plate appearances. Kris Bryant has been good against right-handed pitching, with an .874 OPS and 137 wRC+ against them with San Francisco, despite just a .773 OPS and 107 wRC+ against them with the Cubs.

All pitchers need to be careful with LaMonte Wade Jr., who fills the role as a right-handed pitching crusher, with an .860 OPS and 130 wRC+ against them. He has a .389 OPS and 12 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, so I would expect Alex Vesia to be ready if Wade Jr.’s spot in the lineup comes around in high leverage. Gabe Kapler also loves pinch hitting at any point, so that’s a possibility as well. Buster Posey has a 129 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, and will hit anybody at anytime. I hate it. Despite a down year, Mike Yastrzemski has a 125 wRC+ and .848 OPS against right-handed pitching, as his .513 OPS and 46 wRC+ against LHP drag his season numbers down. Steven Duggar is another left handed batter that prefers facing right-handed pitchers. Tommy La Stella isn’t a particularly fearsome batter, with a 94 wRC+ on the season, but the Giants love to bat him leadoff and he loves that too. He has seven home runs on the year, with three of those being leadoff home runs, and also has three additional home runs as the first batter of an inning.

All in all, the Dodgers have just one left-handed bat in the starting lineup in Seager, while the Giants have just three right-handed bats in Posey, Bryant, and Evan Longoria.

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Here’s how Scherzer and Wood matchup.

In his first postseason outing with the Dodgers, Scherzer allowed one earned run in 4.1 innings on three hits and three walks with four strikeouts. Naturally, the Dodgers won that game and improved to 12-0 in games Scherzer starts, but that has now made three consecutive starts where he’s looked unlike himself. Dave Roberts pulled him in the fifth inning, which is promising to see from Roberts, as he was quickly able to tell Scherzer didn’t have his normal stuff, and trusted the bullpen to prevent further damage, which was absolutely the right call. Scherzer wasn’t hit particularly hard, allowing just three singles, but he was still lucky to escape with just the one earned run. The three walks allowed and the wild pitch that ended up scoring the run were all evident that the normally dominant Scherzer just wasn’t there. Recently, Roberts said the staff and Scherzer identified a few mechanical issues that had been present in his last few outings that has him feeling better going into this start.

On the season, left-handed batters have performed better than right-handed batters against Scherzer this season, although against an ace of his caliber, they’re still putting together very poor numbers. He’s allowed a .597 OPS and .264 wOBA against LHB, compared to a .541 OPS and .233 wOBA against right-handed batters. That’s a 0.99 WHIP and 3.28 FIP with a 30.2% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate against LHB. Those are great numbers for any pitcher, but pedestrian for Scherzer, who comparatively has a 2.68 FIP, 0.74 WHIP, 37.4% strikeout rate and 2.9% walk rate against right-handed batters. It’ll be important that he performs well against those right-handed batters in Posey, Bryant, and Longoria.

Scherzer is normally aggressive and throws a lot of strikes, so it should be easy to tell if he has his best stuff early. The top of the line relievers in Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen will be more than ready, as neither has pitched since the Wild Card game. Brusdar Graterol has made appearances in all three postseason games so far, totaling 2.2 perfect innings. He might’ve pitched himself into a high leverage role which concerns me a bit, but what do I know? David Price and Tony Gonsolin are the lone pitchers on the Dodgers’ NLDS roster that have yet to make an appearance, while Phil Bickford has pitched in both NLDS games thus far, although he’s thrown just eleven pitches.

For the Giants, Wood had one of his best starts of the season in his final outing on 9/29, going six scoreless innings allowing just three hits against the Diamondbacks. As the third or fourth option in the San Francisco rotation, he hasn’t pitched in nearly two weeks. This is his fourth time facing the Dodgers this season, and has given up nine earned runs in 17.0 innings, allowing a .964 OPS. Regular season meetings don’t necessarily carry any weight going into the postseason, but it’s nice to see that the Dodgers weren’t fooled by him earlier this season. Of 79 starting pitchers with at least 130 innings pitched, his ground ball rate of 50.8% is 12th highest in baseball, looking to minimize damage by keeping the ball in the park. They’ll be facing his low 90’s sinker, in addition to his mid 80’s changeup and slider. His profile is similar to that of Webb, where he’ll look to keep the ball down, generating ground balls via the sinker and changeup.

All the Giants relievers have seen an inning except for Jose Alvarez, but after the off day, it’s likely all relievers will be ready to go. Tyler Rogers and Camilo Doval made easy work of the Dodgers in Game 1, while the team was able to put runs up on Dominic Leone, Zack Littell, and Jarlin Garcia in Game 2. In a close game, Jake McGee, Rogers, and Doval are their top options, all of whom will be available.

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This might play a role, or might not considering they’re coming off two games in one of the windiest parks in baseball.

This does sound noteworthy however.

No pressure. Hopefully they’re super comfortable playing at home.

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Classic posturing. It’s likely Gonsolin and Anthony DeSclafani.

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First pitch is at 6:37 PM PDT on TBS.

About Allan Yamashige

Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!