ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (102-68)
at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (96-73)
NL Championship Series, Game 4 - St. Louis leads series 2-1
First pitch: Tuesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: St. Louis -115, Los Angeles +105, Total: 6.5
The Dodgers will look to even the NLCS at two apiece at home on Tuesday night after avoiding a 3-0 hole against the Cardinals on Monday night.
Although three runs is hardly a strong offensive performance, it was still a breakthrough for the Dodgers in Game 3, who also received top-notch pitching from Hyun-Jin Ryu in a 3-0 victory. This came after the Dodgers scored a combined two runs in the first two games of the series. Ricky Nolasco (13-11, 3.72 ERA) will take the mound for the Dodgers in this one, looking to keep his team going despite his recent struggles on the mound. His counterpart will be Lance Lynn (15-11, 4.11 ERA), who must overcome his road woes, where he has a 5.15 ERA in 2013. Overall, the Dodgers will hope to continue to win at home where they are 50-34 (.595) in 2013. The Cardinals, despite Monday’s loss, are still a solid 44-40 (.524) on the road this year. These two teams are 2-2 in games played at Dodger Stadium in 2013 with the season series split evenly at five apiece.
Lynn (1.34 WHIP) was tossed around in his first postseason start this year, giving up five earned runs in 4.1 innings to the Pirates. But he has always pitched quite well against the Dodgers. All three of his career outings against them have come in Los Angeles, during which he is 2-0 (team 2-1) with a 2.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. In the last two of those starts, he has gone 12 innings while allowing just one run. So even though he has been horrible in his postseason career (4-3, 5.08 ERA, 1.62 WHIP), Lynn should be able to find a groove while knowing he has the support of the Cardinals bullpen that has a 3.37 ERA on the year, with that figure dropping to 3.12 on the road. The offense is more what needs to get in gear though, after going scoreless Monday and plating a total of just four runs in the first two games of the series.
Ricky Nolasco (1.21 WHIP) will make his first start of the postseason in Game 4 after the Dodgers skipped him in the NLDS in favor of ace Clayton Kershaw on short rest. Perhaps the reason for his skip was Nolasco's brutal finish to the regular season, during which he racked up a 12.75 ERA, 2.33 WHIP and 0-2 record in his final three starts. He averaged just 4.0 innings per start over those three, allowing 19 runs (17 ER) in 12 innings of work. Overall this season, he struck out 164 and walked 46 in 198.1 innings. He looked great in both of his starts against St. Louis, going 2-0 and allowing just one earned run (four total runs) over 12 innings. In his career, he is 3-4 (team 4-6) with a 3.99 ERA and 1.47 WHIP against the Cardinals. He has to really be careful about pitching to OF Carlos Beltran (16-of-47, .340 BA) and Matt Holliday (12-for-26, .462 BA), both of whom have really owned him. If he struggles again, pressure is back on the Dodgers bullpen that has a 3.45 ERA and 1.29 WHIP this season.