NLCS Game Three Deep Dive: Blowout Provides Added Bonuses For Dodgers Moving Forward

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Dodgers

For those of us that wished for a commanding Game Three victory to turn this NLCS around, we got what we asked for…and then some. This game was out of reach after an historic first inning as the Dodgers eventually decimated the Braves, 15-to-3.

To just simply win would have been enough, but the blowout provided so many more bonuses. It sets the Dodgers up nicely (only down 2-1) for the remainder of the series and puts the Braves on their heels.

This was fun to watch so let’s take a deep dive, shall we?

Hello, Offense, My Old Friend

Instead of wearing down Braves’ starter Kyle Wright by running up his pitch count, the Dodgers ambushed him. Two pitches in, a Mookie Betts infield single, followed by a Corey Seager double, and Los Angeles had a lightning quick 1-0 lead. For only the second time this postseason, the Dodgers scored a run in the first inning. This was momentous, considering the rally that came up short in the ninth inning of last night’s ballgame.

Then, after two quick outs, the team tacked on 10 more runs to set a new postseason record for most runs scored in an inning in the playoffs. Guys that have struggled recently like Joc Pederson hit a three-run bomb, Edwin Ríos, getting his second playoff start, crushed a solo shot, and Max Muncy, who’s heating up, walloped a grand slam. Not to mention Will Smith, who’s been crushing line drives for outs all over the place, came through to extend the inning early on with an RBI double. It was a beautiful display of team baseball and essentially put the game on ice after one half-inning.

The offensive onslaught accomplished a number of things besides the overall win. Julio Urías only went five innings, so he could conceivably come back later in the series, the Dodgers didn’t have to use any of their high-leverage relievers, and most of their starting position players didn’t have to play the whole game. That’s as close to a day’s-off rest as this team is going to get in this new bubble playoff format.

The fresh bullpen will also be able to back-up Clayton Kershaw for Game Four. Who knows what kind of start we’ll get from the 32-year-old left-hander, coming off a bout with back spasms, and subsequently scratched him from his Game Two start.

Hopefully the offense we saw score 15 runs over the first three innings shows up for Game Four, instead of what took place over the final six innings of tonight’s game. After the third inning ended, the Dodgers went a combined 4-for-22 with no runs scored for the rest of the game. Despite that, they’re facing an unproven 22-year-old right-hander named Bryse Wilson. Wilson didn’t have a great 2020, pitching in six games (two starts), going 1-0, with a 4.02 ERA and 1.72 WHIP.

The way I see it, the Dodgers have more starting pitching depth than the Braves and that’s a huge advantage as this series continues. The Braves have no idea what they’ll get from Wilson, but if it’s anything like what Wright did tonight, Wilson could turn out to be the wrong choice. That means outside of Max Fried and Ian Anderson, I believe the Braves’ bullpen will be taxed too much to finish off the Dodgers. With that being said, if you tie the series up tomorrow night, the momentum swings fully back in the Dodgers’ favor. However, a trip to the World Series will be predicated on LA’s offense consistently showing up the rest of the series.

Final Thoughts

Contrary to Game Two, I thought Dave Roberts managed his bullpen quite well in Game Three. I would have taken Urías out a little sooner, but five innings wasn’t bad.

Roberts does do a good job of running his struggling relievers out there the night after they have a bad outing. Having Pedro Baez throw a scoreless inning and strike out two was important for his confidence moving forward. Similarly, I liked that Kenley Jansen appeared in a game with zero pressure. He did give up a massively long fly out to Marcell Ozuna, but ultimately was able to retire the side in order.

Unfortunately, we may have seen the last of Adam Kolarek in high-leverage spots. He was brought in to pitch the ninth with a 14-run lead and proceeded to give up two runs on three hits, including a double to the switch-hitting Ozzie Albies. Albies is now 2-for-2 with a home run and a double off Kolarek in this series. If we’ve learned anything from how Kolarek has pitched in the postseason, it’s that he should never face Albies again.

Jake Reiner is a writer and reporter for Dodgers-LowDown and co-host of The Incline Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @QualityJakes