ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (102-67)
at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (95-73)
NL Championship Series, Game 3 - St. Louis leads series 2-0
First pitch: Monday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: St. Louis -120, Los Angeles +110, Total: 6.5
The Dodgers will look to avoid falling down 3-0 in this series as they return home to face the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLCS.
The St. Louis pitching has been brilliant to start the series, holding the Dodgers to two runs in the first game and shutting them out in Game 2. The Los Angeles pitching hasnít been too shabby either, limiting the Cardinals to a total of four runs on nine hits in those two games, but it hasnít been enough. Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8, 3.14 ERA) will look to keep that up for the Dodgers, though he didnít fare well in his only postseason start to date, allowing four runs on six hits in just three innings versus the Braves in the NLDS. And heíll have pressure to perform at his best against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright (21-9, 2.83 ERA), who is amid a Cy Young-caliber season and is pitching his best baseball lately, having not allowed more than three runs in any of his past seven starts where he is 6-0 and the team is 7-0. Overall, the Cardinals have now won five of the nine games between these two teams this season, including two of three in Los Angeles. Fortunately for the Dodgers, they return home where they were a solid 49-34 (.590) this season. The Cardinals were also a strong 44-39 (.530) on the road.
Wainwright (1.07 WHIP) has been absolutely brilliant recently with a 3-0 record, 0.84 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in his past three starts. Two of those were in the NLDS against Pittsburgh, giving up one run in a complete game in the most recent win on Wednesday. Those just add to his brilliant postseason career numbers of 4-0 record, 2.03 ERA, 0.93 WHIP in 15 outings, six of which have been starts. While he has been slightly worse on the road in 2013 with a 3.36 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, the Cardinals have still won 12 of his 17 starts away from Busch Stadium, where Wainwright is 10-3. Overall his team is 25-11 (.694) when the right-hander takes the hill. Most remarkable about his season has been his impeccable control, striking out 234 batters and walking only 36 in 257.2 innings. In his career against the Dodgers, he is 4-4 (team 6-5) with a 3.04 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. OF Andre Ethier, who is questionable dealing with an ankle injury, could be critical for the Dodgers getting something going against Wainwright with a .300 BA and two homers in 30 career at-bats against him. Others on the team, such as SS Hanley Ramirez (5-for-24, 5 K's) and 1B Adrian Gonzalez (4-for-16, 6 K's) have really struggled. Ramirez may not even play because of his injured ribs. Though Wainwright doesnít always need a bullpen with his endurance (7.2 IP per start), itís good for him to know the Cardinals bullpen has a solid 3.36 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 2013, with that ERA dropping to 3.10 on the road.
The 26-year-old rookie Ryu (1.22 WHIP) will benefit greatly from pitching at home, where he is 7-4 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.21 WHIP this season. The Dodgers have won 11 of his 16 starts (.688) at Dodger Stadium. He hasnít been at his best lately though, lasting just seven innings combined in his past two outings where he's allowed 14 hits. But manager Don Mattingly should be confident sending him out there against the Cardinals. In Ryuís one career start against them on Aug. 8 at Busch Stadium, he earned the win while allowing just five hits and one unearned run over seven innings of work where he fanned seven and walked none. The only guys to get anything off him were 3B David Freese and OF Matt Holliday, both of whom went 2-for-3. Ryu averages 6.3 innings per start, but in case he struggles again, the Dodgers have a decent bullpen that has a 3.47 ERA and 1.30 WHIP this season. Still, after the way the first two games have gone, more pressure will be on the L.A. offense to give this pitching some support.