Dodgers @ Padres NLDS Game 3: Gonsolin vs. Snell in pivotal matchup

For the first time since 2006, the Padres are hosting a postseason game at Petco Park. This on the heels of a gritty 5-3 win on Wednesday night in Los Angeles to tie the series at 1. That makes tonight’s Game 3 pivotal. How pivotal?

Now, 72% isn’t 100% (#analysis), but it is quite the majority. Then again, the Dodgers lost Game 3 against the Giants in last year’s NLDS and ended up winning the series, so all isn’t lost if they lose. Of course, it’d be much more preferable if the Dodgers just simply scored more runs than the Padres tonight.

Tony Gonsolin gets the ball for LA, while Blake Snell is on the bump for the Padres.

Just as Dave Roberts said, Chris Taylor starts in left field, with Trayce Thompson sliding over to center field. and Austin Barnes behind the plate. That means Will Smith is the DH, with Justin Turner playing the field for the first time this series and Max Muncy moving to second base. It’s good to have versatility, and the Dodgers definitely have it.

For the Padres, Jurickson Profar and Ha-Seong Kim, effectively, swap spots in the batting order with the right-handed Gonsolin starting the game. Josh Bell is back in the cleanup spot for them as well.

Speaking of Gonsolin, he’s going to be limited tonight — 75 pitches or five innings, situation dependent. That could mean a bullpen game, that could mean a 5-inning outing, which is exactly what Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw have given the Dodgers in the series’ first two games. A late-season forearm injury put a damper on the end of the All-Star’s phenomenal regular season (16-1, 2.14 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 16.9 K-BB%). If he struggles with pitch count or results, we could see either Andrew Heaney or Dustin May in a longer-relief situation. All things being equal, I’d opt for Heaney. He’d give LA a different look, while leaving May available for Game 4 to backup Tyler Anderson (if necessary). There aren’t two more polar opposite pitchers on the staff than Anderson and May.

Snell turned his season around in the second half for San Diego. He had a 5.22 ERA (3.69 FIP) in the first half and pitched to a 2.19 ERA (2.23 FIP) in the second half. The last time the Dodgers faced him in the postseason, they won the World Series. That doesn’t mean a whole lot, just a fun coincidence. However, he doesn’t have Kevin Cash to pull him after 14 outs when he’s, seemingly, cruising.

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Some news and notes before first pitch.

This just makes it even more baffling that Barnes was the choice to pinch-hit with the game on the line instead of Taylor (or even Miguel Vargas!). It’s good to hear Taylor is healthy. The Dodgers could use a little of his postseason magic tonight.

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Not sure who the genius was who thought this was a good idea. The cameras have since been removed.

Man, 2006 was such a long time ago.

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Leave it to me to sneak in a rosterbatory piece in the thread of the biggest game of the season. You’d have to think Anderson is intrigued by this bit of news. Kershaw (if he’s good with it) and Trea Turner will be receiving (and declining) the qualifying offer this winter.

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First pitch is set for 5:37 p.m. Pacific time.

#WinForVin

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. 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.