Nobody wants the Dodgers to win, but this article on Five Thirty Eight brings up the very interesting possibility of a critical mass of professional sports in the Southland, which they’re calling a “sports equinox”:
And Sunday’s potential equinox is pretty amazing when you lay it all out: In addition to Game 5 of the World Series, the Rams will play the Packers in football; the Clippers will take the basketball court against the Wizards; and the Kings and Ducks will both be in action on the ice. And while it won’t be recorded in the official FiveThirtyEight sports equinox scrolls, Los Angeles teams will also play two MLS games on Sunday as the Galaxy and LAFC both have matches, though LAFC will be on the road for theirs.
All it takes is for the Dodgers to win either tonight or tomorrow night. If the Dodgers win either tonight or tomorrow night, then it means the Red Sox will not have swept them out of the World Series... when they’re so close! That would be suboptimal for those who do not support a Dodgers’ victory, but it would be good for television executives seeking ratings.
Rick Porcello goes for Boston tonight in Game 3 and there was a lot of talk about how he transformed his game by managing to work up in the zone effectively. He was one of the first pitchers to start re-trending the game by going away from what hitters had been going off of for decades — pitchers are trying to keep the ball down — and blasting swings adjusted for an altogether different plane.
Justin Turner and Max Muncy are two really effective hitters up in the zone and they’ll both be in the lineup tonight. Dave Roberts had made the somewhat unusual choice of going all-righty against the Red Sox left-handed starters but now finds himself back at home and facing a right-handed starter and therefore emboldened to use his regular lineup filled with his best hitters.
That’s by no means a dig at the Dodgers for sticking to analytics when determining their lineup, but at the same time, it’s hard to say that benching four of your best hitters for two consecutive games is a wonderful strategy. Bruce Bochy would’ve kept in at least one lefty he really “trusted” against Sale and Price.
Alex Cora, meanwhile, will be using J.D. Martinez in the field and hitting cleanup. This after Martinez rolled his ankle/hurt his knee rounding second base during game two. There was some talk of putting Mookie Betts at second base to get Martinez into the lineup without sacrificing any of the Red Sox lineup potential, but they opted against it. To Martinez’s credit, he did play in the National League. It’s not a travesty that he’s playing the field tonight. And it was just about 13.5 months ago when he did this:
Rich Hill is the first victim of Martinez’s barrage in the above embed, but he goes for the Dodgers tomorrow night in Game 4 against Nathan Eovaldi. Tonight, Rick Procello matches up against rookie Walker Buehler, whose blazing fastball and power curveball gives him half an arsenal against a Red Sox lineup that does very well against fastballs (90.5 runs above average, per FanGraphs). For both curveballs and sliders, they’re around 5 runs above average for each.
For his career, he’s thrown the fastball-curveball combo for a 44%-15% split. He’s thrown his slider only 10% of the time for his career, but he’s been 9.0 runs above average with it in 2018. That’s good for 21st in MLB on that pitch (minimum 100 innings). His 1.7 runs above average with the curveball was good for 30th and his dominating fastball (averages 97 mph) was tied for 11th (with J.A. Happ) at 15.0 runs above average. A fastball-slider combo might be more effective for him against the Red Sox tonight.
Of course, none of us want him to be effective. We want the Red Sox to win 11-0 tonight and 19-0 tomorrow night and send us all into the offseason. I mean, as soon as this sucker ends, the Giants are sure to announce their new front office overlord and we’ll get that person’s assistant GM or actual GM hire soon after. And then the wheeling and dealing of the offseason can begin.
Game 3 Lineups:
Interesting note! Kenley Jansen has not pitched yet in this series!