Posted on October 27, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Well, it took 18 innings and over seven hours, but we have a series. The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to outlast the Boston Red Sox in Friday/Saturday morning’s Game 3. Ian Kinsler is the scapegoat after a terrible error in the 13th inning in what could have been the last out in a Red Sox win. That allowed Max Muncy to play the role of hero with a walk-off home run in the 18th inning to cut Boston’s series lead to 2-1. That has set up a critical Game 4 on Saturday night in which the Dodgers could really seize momentum in the series.
Game 4 is going to be all about recovering both physically and mentally from last night’s marathon. Nathan Eovaldi pitched six innings for the Red Sox to help save their bullpen. Of course, he was also in line to start Game 4. Boston will also have to bounce back from the disappointment of losing a game that surely took a lot out of them physically. The Dodgers, on the other hand, were able to utilize their deep bullpen and will feel a little less tired upon waking on Saturday knowing they got the win they needed in Game 3.
As mentioned, Eovaldi won’t be starting Game 4 as previously after pitching six innings in Game 3. Alex Cora didn’t name a starter right away, but he appears to have three options. First, Chris Sale to could back on short rest after only pitching 4-plus innings in Game 1. Eduardo Rodriguez is another option. He’s a starter by trade but has been used out of the bullpen in the postseason. In six appearances, he has thrown just 4.1 innings while posting a 6.23 ERA. Finally, the Red Sox could go with Drew Pomeranz, who was just added to the World Series roster after being absent during the American League playoffs. To speculate, Sale would seem to be the most likely option.
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The Dodgers, of course, didn’t use Rich Hill in Game 3 so he will get the ball in Game 4. Hill has made two starts and one relief appearance during the postseason. However, his leash has been short, giving the Dodgers just 10.1 innings. He has a 2.61 ERA in those three outings but has played with fire by walking so many hitters. The Los Angeles bullpen is far from burned out after only pitching 11 of the 18 innings in Game 3. But the Dodgers may give Hill a little extra slack to see if he can go deep into the game.
No matter who starts for the Red Sox, the Dodgers are going to face another lefty in Game 4. That means it’s back on the team’s right-handed hitters to step up. Obviously, the likes of Justin Turner, Manny Machado, and Yasiel Puig need to do the damage. However, complementary players like David Freese, Chris Taylor, and Brian Dozier are now the X-factors in this series.
For the Red Sox, the X-factor in Game 4 is Eduardo Nunez. He’s no doubt banged up after sacrificing his body on several occasions in Game 3. But the Red Sox need him to come back and start Game 4. He’s 3 for 5 with a home run in this series and 4 for 9 with a double and home run in his career against Hill. He’s a potential difference maker in the bottom half of Boston’s lineup.
The Dodgers should be able to ride the emotional high of their Game 3 win. Also, no matter who starts on the mound for the Red Sox, the bullpen will be asked to do a lot of the heavy lifting. The more the Dodgers see Boston’s relievers, the more likely they are to get to them. The Dodgers will find another way to outlast the Red Sox to even the series. Los Angeles wins 6-5.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.