After a heartbreaking 1-0 loss on Monday night in NLDS Game 3 against the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers will play on Tuesday with their season on the line.
The 107-win Giants have managed to win two of the first three games of the Division Series against their hated rivals, but the Dodgers remain a top team capable of turning things around at any moment.
To do so, they will turn to perhaps their most consistent starter in the last few years: right-hander Walker Buehler.
Starting On Short Rest For The First Time In His Career
The thing is that he will take the ball on three days rest for the first time in his career.
Walker Buehler will start Game 4 for the Dodgers on three days' rest.
— Alden González (@Alden_Gonzalez) October 12, 2021
Historically, pitchers have been less effective while pitching on three days rest rather than four or five, which is logical.
However, pitchers dominating under these circumstances are not uncommon.
Buehler, a supremely talented hurler who finished the regular season with a 15-4 record, a 2.49 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP, and 201 strikeouts in 202.2 innings, took the loss in Game 1 of the series.
That day, Buehler conceded three earned runs in 6.1 frames.
He will be looking for revenge this time around, but with the season on the line, manager Dave Roberts will likely have an early hook if he sees Buehler in trouble.
The Dodgers’ need for using Buehler on short rest is a direct consequence of their depth issues, highlighted by Clayton Kershaw’s ongoing elbow/forearm issues and the Trevor Bauer legal situation, not to mention Dustin May’s season-ending surgery a few months ago.
The Dodgers’ Best Option
It’s also a sign that Roberts doesn’t fully trust right-hander Tony Gonsolin after he allowed eight runs in his last 12 regular season innings.
All signs indicate, however, that Gonsolin will be crucial in the Dodgers’ pitching plans.
Walker Buehler will start Game 4 for the Dodgers tonight on three days rest.
Tony Gonsolin will also be a big part of their game plan, based off Dave Roberts' statements yesterday
— Danny Emerman (@DannyEmerman) October 12, 2021
If there is a pitcher capable of shining under these circumstances, it’s Buehler.
He is young, healthy, in his prime, and has a career postseason ERA of 2.53 in 67.2 innings.
Veteran first baseman Albert Pujols has full confidence in Buehler’s ability to keep the team in the game.
He said, according to MLB.com:
“I think he’s going to do what he does all year long: He’s going to throw the ball pretty well. I know [he’d be] coming on a short rest, but I think he’s going to be pretty excited. The fans are really going to be really excited, and hopefully we can push this game to Game 5 in San Francisco.”
The Giants will have Anthony DeSclafani on the mound.
There is a worrisome situation going on for the Dodgers, however.
Los Angeles’ main problem is that they haven’t been able to get much going on offense in two of the three games played so far in the series.
The Dodgers have held the Giants to seven runs in the first three games, or 2.33 per contest.
The problem is that, besides Game 2 in which they scored nine times, the Dodgers’ offense has also been absent.
Their bats were noticeably silent during Monday’s 1-0 loss, and they will need to get going if Los Angeles wants to have any chance of repeating their championship.