Posted on October 26, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The good news for the Los Angeles Dodgers is that they’re back home for Game 3 of the World Series. The bad news is that they’re down 2-0 in the series. Based on how the Red Sox have performed in the first two games, the Dodgers almost have to win the next three games to give themselves a chance. Of course, they also have to take things one step at a time, starting with Friday’s Game 3.
No More DH
With the series shifting back to a National League park, neither team will have use of the DH for the next three games. The Red Sox have considered the idea of moving Mookie Betts to second base in order to free up right field for J.D. Martinez, who is the team’s primary DH. However, that doesn’t look like it’ll happen. The other option is bumping Jackie Bradley Jr. to the bench and shifting Betts to center field. Of course, Martinez is also battling an ankle injury, so he may not be available anyway. Meanwhile, the Dodgers will lose Matt Kemp from their lineup. Kemp drove in two of the six runs they’ve scored in this series, so that’s a meaningful loss from their perspective.
Rookie Walker Buehler will get the call in Game 3, knowing he needs to help get the Dodgers back in this series. In his three starts this postseason, Buehler is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA. Those numbers are a little misleading, especially after he gave up one run over 4.1 innings in Game 7 of the NLCS. Opposing hitters are batting just .222 against him in his three starts. He also has 22 strikeouts over 16.2 innings. It may be best for the Dodgers to get a few good innings out of Buehler and get him out before he has to face the Red Sox lineup a third time.
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Meanwhile, former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello will start for Boston. Between two starts and two relief appearances, Porcello has only pitched 10.2 innings in the postseason, posting a modest 4.22 ERA. Last time out, he gave up four runs in four innings against the Astros. However, he’s certainly capable of pitching much better than that. He also had success in the ALDS against the Yankees, who have a similar power-hungry lineup to the Dodgers.
For the Red Sox, the X-factor continues to be their bullpen. Boston’s contingent of relievers has been one of the biggest surprises of the playoffs. They have continued to shut it down against the Dodgers during the first two games of this series. The Red Sox may not be able to count on more than four or five innings from Porcello, so they’ll once again need to rely on their bullpen to finish the job.
For the Dodgers, their left-handed hitters are the X-factor in Game 3 and the rest of this series. The likes of Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, and Joc Pederson have largely been held in check during the playoffs against a string of left-handed pitchers. Against Porcello and the Boston bullpen, they’ll see all right-handed arms. This is their chance to get going and get the Dodgers back in this series.
The Red Sox certainly look poised to win this series. But the Dodgers are too good to go down without a fight and just get swept away. At home, the Dodgers will start to get on track offensively while Buehler does just enough to give the Los Angeles bullpen a lead to protect. Los Angeles wins 6-3.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.