What a difference a game makes! Frankly, what a difference an inning/batter/pitch makes! Instead of coming back home down 2-0 with their two best pitchers burnt, the Houston Astros managed to steal a game at Dodger Stadium. And, effectively make this a best-of-five series the rest of the way. This is going to be great.
RHP Yu Darvish (LAD) versus RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (HOU) — 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX
The Dodgers had a chance to not only go back to Houston up 2-0, of course. But also, potentially sweep the Astros out of the series without so much as a second start for Dallas Keuchel. Or Justin Verlander, for that matter. Then the unthinkable happened—Kenley Jansen showed he was ever so slightly human. He allowed a pair of earned runs, including an 0-2 homer to Marwin Gonzalez to tie the game. And from there, the floodgates burst open with runs and homers from both sides until the Dodgers finally were forced into submission.
This matchup isn’t as electric as the others on paper, of course. But it could still be tremendous. Few pitchers boast the diverse and strong repertoire of Darvish, who can throw more pitches than his catchers have fingers to call them. After an up-and-down stretch following the trade to the Dodgers, he’s been brilliant this October.
He’s made two starts. The Dodgers have won both. And, he’s allowed just one earned run in each: 1.59 ERA, 14-1 K/BB ratio in 11.1 innings and just eight hits allowed. He’s very familiar with the Astros offense—one he faced regularly since they moved to the AL West—so that’s another fun dynamic. He faced them twice this year, and was brilliant, allowing just four earned runs in 12 innings (3.00 ERA) with a 12-4 K/BB ratio.
McCullers was the story in the clincher for the Astros in the ALCS. That’s because he not only propped up a sagging bullpen with four one-hit, shutout innings with six strikeouts, but he threw 24 curveballs in a row to close the game out. His performance in the ALCS overall was inspired. He also went six strong innings in a loss to the Yankees in Game 4, allowing just one earned run on a solo homer.
McCullers also has an electric repertoire. Though, it’s by no means as diverse as Darvish—as evidenced by his curve-balling ways against the Yankees. He’s averaged 94.2 mph on his fastball for his career, and throws his curve nearly half the time. It’s easy to see why, however. Opponents have hit just .166/.217/.248 against Uncle Charlie in his career with a whiff rate of 18 percent.