Dodgers recharge and focus on better plate discipline ahead of NLCS Game 3

Atlanta Braves’ Eddie Rosario dives into 2nd base ahead of the tag by Dodgers 2nd baseman Trea Turner off a pop out by Freddie Freeman throughout the 8th inning in Game 2 of the NLCS on Sunday in Atlanta. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers recently concluded among the most awesome five-game series in Major League Baseball history versus their bitter competitors in a winner-take-all clash Thursday night in San Francisco, gotten on a cross-country flight to Atlanta on Friday and dug themselves a hole over the weekend.

When the whirlwind was over, after they fell back 0-2 to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series for the 2nd straight year on 2 walk-off losses, it was apparent: The Dodgers were sapped. Max Scherzer confessed his arm was “dead” in his start Sunday after closing Thursday. Justin Turner was held out of the lineup with a neck injury. Chris Taylor stated he couldn’t wait to return house.

The Dodgers wouldn’t openly acknowledge the possibility of a disappointment after outliving the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS. But all indications suggested the group was working on empty by the end of the weekend.

“It’s everything,” Taylor stated after Game 2. “Physically and mentally draining. These games, they’re four or five hours long and the level of focus is a little bit different than a regular season game. It’s definitely exhausting, but that’s what you expect. Everyone on this team has experience with it.”

The Dodgers touched down in Los Angeles early Monday early morning. Just a couple of gamers reported to Dodger Stadium in the afternoon for treatment and exercises. Most kept away, taking the day to revitalize their baseball taste buds prior to Game 3 on Tuesday when Walker Buehler takes the mound to play stopper versus a club that was swept in 3 video games at Dodger Stadium to start September.

If they fall the Dodgers two times more in, if they manage the upset and knock out the ruling World Series champs, Dave Roberts’ decision-making late in Game 2 will be dissected on bar stools for many years to come.

Why usage Blake Treinen versus the bottom of the Braves’ order in the seventh inning? Why offer the ball to Julio Urías, a starter all season, in the 8th inning when other quality choices were offered? Why let him face Austin Riley, a right-handed player, when Kenley Jansen was including the bullpen? Why not utilize Jansen to begin the ninth inning?

Why, why, why?

And below all those concerns, in small print, will be the factor the Dodgers discovered themselves in another tight video game to start with: the offense, so powerful on paper and computer system screens, disappeared once again.

Los Angeles required 6 pitches Sunday to take a lead versus Ian Anderson on Corey Seager’s two-run crowning achievement. The Dodgers seemed poised for an offending surge when Anderson was pulled after 3 innings, leaving the Braves bullpen to take in 18 outs. The Dodgers at that point had 3 hits. They summoned one for the remainder of the video game — Taylor’s two-run double in the seventh inning.

The Dodgers scored the 4th most runs in the majors throughout the routine season, however they likewise experienced bewildering stretches of silence. In the postseason, where the pitching is regularly much better, they’ve typically discovered themselves not able to sustain rallies.

On Sunday, they went one for 10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. Through the 2 NLCS video games, they are 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position and have actually left 17 runners on base.

“Any time guys are in scoring position, you want to try to not do too much and use the whole field, grind them out, take your knocks,” Taylor stated. “We got to do a better job of that.”

Dodgers' Chris Taylor follows through on a swing for a go-ahead two-run double.

Dodgers’ Chris Taylor follows through on a swing for a consent two-run double throughout the seventh inning in Game 2 of the NLCS versus the Atlanta Braves on Sunday in Atlanta. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

In their 7 championship game besides Game 2 of the NLDS versus the Giants, when they went 6 for 15 with runners in scoring position and left 6 runners on base, the Dodgers are 7 for 51 with runners in scoring position and have actually stranded 50 runners. The problems originate from an absence of discipline in the circumstances. The Dodgers’ chase rate with 2 strikes and no runners in scoring position is 32.3% in the series. It spikes to 58.3% with 2 strikes and runners in scoring position.

As an outcome, Los Angeles has actually been held to less than 5 runs in 6 of their 8 video games this postseason. It’s in a plain contrast to last October when the Dodgers set the big league record for many two-out RBIs in a single postseason.

“Not very good,” Roberts stated when asked to evaluate the group’s at-bats with runners in scoring position. “I don’t need numbers to know what I see. And if we’re going to chase, then there’s no reason for him to throw the ball in the strike zone. So I think that we’ve got to kind of lock in more in the strike zone and when we do that we’ll have more success.”

The dry spells have actually offered the Dodgers’ pitching personnel little margin for mistake. The onus in Game 3 will fall on Buehler to suppress the Braves and spell a taxed relief corps that logged 12 2/3 innings in the series’ very first 2 video games.

Buehler will begin on additional rest after pitching in Game 4 of the NLDS last Tuesday on 3 days’ rest. The right-hander logged 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball as the Dodgers survived, requiring a Game 5. On Monday, Buehler stated he handled an illness when the group went back to San Francisco for the removal video game, however he decreased to elaborate.

“I’m feeling alright,” Buehler stated. “So, no worse for the wear.”

Buehler will work opposite 37-year-old Charlie Morton, a familiar opponent for the Dodgers in October. The right-hander logged the last 4 innings in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series for the Houston Astros to liquidate the Dodgers. Last year, pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays, he quit 5 runs over 4 1/3 innings versus Los Angeles in Game 3 of the World Series in the Texas bubble. This season, he yielded 5 runs and had 13 strikeouts in 11 innings throughout 2 starts opposite the Dodgers.

Buehler’s trip Tuesday might affect the Dodgers’ pitching prepare for Game 4 on Wednesday. Roberts stated the club would think about selecting a bullpen video game in Game 4 and pressing Urías back to Game 5 on Thursday if Buehler pitches deep into the video game and the Dodgers win to prevent dealing with removal Wednesday.

Urías was among the couple of gamers who appeared on the field at Dodger Stadium to exercise Monday.

“I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate him and trust him and respect him,” Roberts stated. “But he’s a man, he’s a star player, and I said this earlier, it’s like he’s not that 19-year-old rookie anymore.

“I think that sometimes I get that in my head, that he’s still this young guy. He’s a seasoned veteran. So whatever he feels today will impact the decision on Game 4 or Game 5 and he’ll drive that.”

After that, they would have Scherzer slated for Game 6 and Buehler for Game 7. That would take rebounding to win a minimum of 2 video games in Los Angeles. The supervisor is positive.

“I believe we’re going to win this series,” Roberts stated. “I believe we’re going to win tomorrow.”

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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