D-backs @ Dodgers – 2023 NLDS Game 3: Well fuck, Lance Lynn needs to save the season

Before we reckon with the fact that Lance Lynn and his 6.47 pre-trade ERA/4.36 post-trade ERA will take the mound in tonight’s elimination game with the $240-million Dodgers facing elimination at the hands of a truly impressive D-backs team that costs literally half the price at $119 million, I figured checking in on how the other high-profile starters moved at the trade deadline have performed in the postseason may be interesting.

That actually comes down to Jack Flaherty, Michael Lorenzen, Jordan Montgomery and Justin Verlander as Max Scherzer is not on the ALDS roster due to his shoulder injury. Add in Lucas Giolito wasting away on the Angels and Guardians (while pitching terribly), Eduardo Rodriguez notably remaining on the Tigers, Dylan Cease sticking with the White Sox and I guess Rich Hill struggling mightily for the Padres, and really it comes down to about five guys moved who are still active this season.

Jack FlahertyOrioles2211310
Michael LorenzenPhillies0000000
Jordan MontgomeryRangers111554171
Justin VerlanderAstros6400360

Well, actually make that four guys as Lorenzen has yet to pitch out of the bullpen for the Phillies after being a late add to the bullpen for the NLDS. Considering Flaherty had one appearance out of the bullpen before the Orioles were swept, we are actually talking about just three starts between Montgomery and Verlander so far. Among the 36 starters between the Wild Card and Divisional Rounds, 33 starters began the 2023 season with the team they are pitching for in the postseason. Lynn may be just the fourth postseason start for a mid-season acquisition depending on how the other starters on Wednesday shake out, which would set the total at just 9.5% of the 42 starts being taken by a trade deadline acquisition.

Verlander’s Game 1 start against the Twins obviously went well as you can see and led to a 6-4 win for Houston while Montgomery’s Wild Card start ended up as a 4-0 victory over the Rays and then an 11-8 victory against Baltimore despite his struggles.


Dave Roberts has issued a few changes to the lineup in hopes of inspiring some offense, while Torey Lovullo keeps things much the same.

Image Image
6:07 PM Phoenix
2B Betts RF Carroll (L)
1B Freeman (L) 2B Marte (S)
DH Martinez DH Pham
3B Muncy (L) 1B Walker
C Smith C Moreno
RF Heyward (L) LF Gurriel Jr.
CF Hernández CF Thomas (L)
LF Peralta (L) 3B Longoria
SS Rojas SS Perdomo (S)
P Lynn (R) P Pfaadt (R)

James Outman will be on the bench tonight as Enrique Hernandez starts in center field. Outman is hitless through his first seven plate appearances in the NLDS, with three strikeouts and one walk while Hernández has one hit in four appearances. The move is understandable with the offense looking for a “spark”, as Hernandez is the most likely to supply that. He owns a career 94 wRC+ and .719 OPS, but that jumps to a 134 wRC+ and .891 OPS in 71 postseason games over 198 plate appearances. The downside is that James Outman plays a great defensive center field and Chase Field has a huge outfield, while Lance Lynn generates his fair share of fly-balls. Oh well, the offense has been the biggest issue so it’s worth a shot. Additionally, Will Smith drops from third in the lineup to fifth, with J.D. Martinez and Max Muncy each moving up a spot respectively.


Unfortunately for my preview, Lynn did not face the D-backs in 2023 and last pitched against Arizona in 2020. While that was 6 scoreless innings with just one hit and two walks allowed to eight strikeouts, Lynn faced a lineup that included Kole Calhoun, Eduardo Escobar, David Peralta, Jake Lamb, Carson Kelly, Jon Jay and Nick Ahmed. Some of those guys aren’t even in the league anymore. As a result, Lynn’s experience against the current D-backs roster is limited.

Ketel Marte134200213.308.357.462.819
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.92100104.222.222.333.556
Jace Peterson92000001.
Evan Longoria71100104.
Tommy Pham51000002.
Christian Walker50000004.
Gabriel Moreno20000000.

As for Lynn’s career at Chase Field?

April 10, 20196111411290
June 29, 2017687433171
Aug. 24, 2015695922231
Sept. 27, 20146113922152
April 3, 2013494644331
May 7, 2012591300470

It’s nearly all irrelevant given how long it has been since any of those games happened, but the pitch usage isn’t too different for Lynn. Yes, back in Lance’s most recent game in Phoenix he was still throwing 50.5% fastballs, 21.6% sinkers, 18% cutters, 6.3% curves and 3.6% changes. Since joining the Dodgers, we all know Lynn has been back to a similar same fastball usage, though it is now 92/93 mph rather than 95.4 mph, with the sinker and cutter holding the edge as his No. 2 and No. 3 pitches in September. The slider dipped from 10.2% in August to 8.2% in September, and the change bumped up from 4.9% to 7.1%. Meanwhile, the curve dropped from 11.3% to 1.9% in the final two months with the Dodgers.

A few things to note for the D-backs lineup would be Corbin Carroll‘s 1.6 RV/100 and .438 wOBA against four-seamers and his 2.8 RV/100 with a .492 wOBA against sinkers. Moreno’s 1.8 RV/100 and .460 wOBA against four-seamers, and Ketel Marte‘s 2.3 RV/100 and .436 against sinkers are also near the top of the team’s results this season, with the D-backs’ top eight wOBA coming against four-seamers, sinkers or cutters.

Meanwhile, change-ups have Carroll, Tommy Pham and Alek Thomas all below average, while Marte and Christian Walker are basically average against the pitch. Very few D-backs have a Whiff% over 20% on four-seamers or sinkers, while the change has almost everyone in the order above a 25.0 Whiff% this season. Given that the D-backs have five home runs in the two games against the Dodgers and another four in the Wild Card Series against the Brewers, coupled with Lynn’s tendency to give up homers, I am not so sure the plan the Dodgers have had for him matches up the best against Arizona.

Maybe he goes to the change-up a little more often tonight. It did peak at 15.3% in his final start of the regular season against the Giants while recording a pair of fly outs, a ground out and two whiffs without giving up a hit.


On the other side, Brandon Pfaadt faced the Dodgers twice in his 19 games as a rookie with neither going particularly well for him.

Aug. 30, 2023 (Road)490865242
Aug. 8, 2023 (Home)4 2/388644250

Much of Pfaadt’s issues in the first meeting came all at once with three runs for Los Angeles in the fifth as a leadoff walk scored on a double for Mookie Betts after 11 pitches and a double for Freeman on two pitches, who eventually came in to score as well. Both of those hits came against Pfaadt’s fastball.

The runs did not come until the 3rd inning when he faced the Dodgers in Los Angeles, but Freeman and Jason Heyward homered (against a four-seamer and change respectively) in the inning to score four runs. A double for Max Muncy scored two more in the 4th as that wrapped up the offense against Pfaadt. I don’t want to make the chart for all of the 5 or 6 career at-bats the team has against Pfaadt, but Freeman is 4-of-6 with a 2.167 OPS and Betts 3-for-5 with a 1.467 OPS.

Those two are notable for many reasons, but a combined 1-for-13 with three walks has obviously caused plenty of problems at the top of the order. Especially when they have been tasked with coming to the plate immediately after falling behind the past two games.

For Betts, here’s four of his seven at-bats against the D-backs with the others being a strikeout looking, a fielder’s choice and when he reached on the error.

Well, it sure seems like they are baiting him to reach away early in counts on hard stuff.

And as for Freeman…

The at-bats went longer, so from top left to bottom right, those are a cutter, change-up, four-seamer and sinker to get these four outs (technically five since the last one was a double play). Freeman’s infield single against a four-seamer came in a location pretty close to the top left while his other at-bat was the strikeout looking at a curve. While not quite as consistent as Mookie’s at-bats, Freeman is attacking down and away with very little luck in the series. The three harder pitches all ended up on the ground while the change-up in the top right was the line out to second base.

Pfaadt throws his four-seamer (93.7 mph) 43.5% to right-handed batters, a sweeper 36.7% and a sinker 14.9%. Left-handed batters see 47.5% fastballs, 21.5% changes, 16.4% sweepers and 10.1% curves. Freeman’s four hits against Pfaadt this season came on three different pitches with the fastball giving up the homer and a double while Betts’ three hits were also on three different pitches with his double coming on a fastball in the 11-pitch at bat mentioned above, followed by singles off the sweeper and curve.


What a terrible club to join for a third time.


Roberts confirmed that Clayton Kershaw would be starting a potential game four, but that’s something to worry about tomorrow.

That’s about it, nothing noteworthy besides needing to win tonight.


First pitch is scheduled for 6:07 p.m. from Chase Field in Phoenix where I will be in attendance eating away all of my sadness.

About 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.