MLB SPORTS: 3 things that could decide epic LA-SF NLDS

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News


7: 03 AM UTC

LOS ANGELES — Buckle up. It’s going to be a thrilling finish for the National League Division Series between Giants and Dodgers.

“That’s been the story of the year,” said Giants right-hander Dominic Leone. They’ve never left. We’ve never gone away. It’s going to be a battle all the way to the end.”

After the NL West rivals split their two games in San Francisco over the weekend, the series shifts to Dodger Stadium tonight for Game 3.

These teams have already amassed a remarkable 108 wins apiece this season. So who gets to 110 first? Here are three factors that could decide the series.

1. Who will fill the gap at first base?
These are two of the deepest teams in baseball — if not the two very deepest. This depth is currently being tested.

In the final week of the regular season, the Giants lost their first baseman, Brandon Belt, to a fractured left thumb. Shortly thereafter, the Dodgers lost their first baseman, Max Muncy, to a dislocated left elbow. Both could be back in the postseason. They won’t return this season.

“I guess if you look at it in a vacuum, it’s probably a wash,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. I can’t speak for the [replace Belt]. guys. We don’t have Max in our club and we still need to win a series. “

The Dodgers have already used two replacements at first base for Muncy — Matt Beaty in Game 1 and Cody Bellinger in Game 2. Now, it looks like they’ll opt for a third in three games, with Albert Pujols expected to start Game 3 against left-hander Alex Wood. Bellinger will be on the bench while the Dodgers give up defense in favor of offense.

“It’s more of the mindset of: Give us the best chance to get a lead, beat the starter, and then we can pivot out of some things,” Roberts said. “That’s the mindset.”

The Giants have taken a simpler approach — starting Wilmer Flores at first base in both games. He is likely to also start Game 3. However, lineup construction without Belt is a problem. Presumably, Belt would’ve been somewhere at the heart of this lineup against a power righty like Max Scherzer.

2. Which team generates the most traffic
During the regular season, the Giants and Dodgers both made things difficult on their opponents by simply getting on base. They were ranked 1-2 in the National League for walk rate. Only the Nationals had a higher percentage of on-base.

This series, those baserunners are paramount. In Game 1, the Dodgers did not walk and were eliminated. They had four walks in Game 2 and three of them were scored. The Giants have scored three walks in this series. )

It’s perhaps oversimplifying things to note that reaching base is important. It’s the truth in this series. Both teams boast deep lineups that feature hitters who are able to slug from the top. Which team will have runners on the field when that slug arrives?

And — with both teams facing some very tricky pitching decisions — which lineup will put the most stress on the opposing staff by running up pitch counts? Speaking of which …

3. Who will pull the right pitching strings late in the series?
Whatever the result on Monday night, these teams are going to have some decisions to make for Tuesday’s Game 4. Without Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers have no clear Game 4 starter. Although there are a few options available to the Giants, none of them would be comfortable with. The series could be decided by the pitching decisions.

The Giants seem unlikely to turn to Logan Webb on short rest for a potential Game 4. That leaves them with either Anthony DeSclafani, who has struggled against the Dodgers this season, or a potential bullpen game — with every relief arm on the table.

As for Los Angeles, Walker Buehler is at least a candidate for a short-rest start after 99 pitches in Game 1 — especially if Game 4 is a must-win. It is more likely that the Dodgers will use an opener. Then, they’d have right-hander Tony Gonsolin available to pitch the bulk of the game.

“Everything is on the table,” Roberts said.

As it should be. Both managers have found the decision to pitch quite easy over two games. This is no longer true. These decisions could determine your place in the NL Championship Series.

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