The Dodgers battle the Mets in the pivotal Game 3 of their National League Division Series on Monday night, and will play the role of perceived villains with a feisty New York crowd having two days to digest the Chase Utley slide and broken leg of Ruben Tejada. But there are few things as galvanizing as 45,000 fans booing your every move.
In the previous two years, this was Hyun-jin Ryu's spot, as the Dodgers boasted arguably the best third starter in baseball. Now, out all year after shoulder surgery, the Dodgers will find out how much they miss him.
But a Brett Anderson has had a fine season in his own right. The left-hander overcame a checked injury past of his own to set new career highs in starts and innings, and proved a reliable option all year long for the Dodgers. Anderson's strength is keeping the ball on the ground, leading baseball with a 66.3-percent ground ball rate on the season.
In 12 of Anderson's 31 starts he had a ground ball rate of at least 70 percent, and in those he was 6-1 with a 2.57 ERA, with two home runs allowed. The Dodgers were 9-3 in those starts.
But the Mets don't hit the ball on the ground that much, with a 41.9-percent ground ball rate that is 28th-lowest in the majors. Anderson led the Dodgers staff with 18 home runs allowed too, and he mentioned former teammate Yoenis Cespedes as a particularly though test.
"I'm going to pitch to my strengths, and if I can stay away from his strengths and hopefully they match up well," Anderson said. "He's tremendously talented and a threat and can hit pitches four inches off the plate for homers against a guy that should probably win the Cy Young. So I gotta go out there and make my pitches, too, and try to get him out."
Also on the mound on Monday night is Matt Harvey for the Mets. He had 24 strikeouts and just one walk, allowing three runs in 17⅔ innings.
Harvey faced the Dodgers twice this season, tying a career-high with five walks in a loss at Dodger Stadium on July 4, then allowing two solo home runs in seven innings in a win at Citi Field on July 25.
Anderson has never faced he Mets in his career.
He has one career postseason start, striking out six in six scoreless innings against the Tigers in Game 3 of the 2012 ALDS. He allowed a run in a relief appearance one year later in the playoffs, also against Detroit.
Anderson, a consumer of caffeine before his starts, said on Sunday he would do the same before Game 3.
"If I woke up and didn't have anything, I'd be kind of boring. So I need to listen to my heavy metal and kind of rage out for a little bit and get some caffeine and Red Bull in me," Anderson said. "Once you get out there and start warming up, the playoff adrenaline kind of ramps up. But you try to treat it just like another start. But once you feel the adrenaline, feel the crowd it'll kind of kick in and it'll be fun."
Mets roster move
To replace the injured Ruben Tejada on the roster, the Mets added shortstop Matt Reynolds to the roster. The 24-year-old was a second-round pick in 2012 and hit .267/.319/.402 in 115 games for Triple-A Las Vegas. Should Reynolds play in this series, he'll join former A's infielder Mark Kiger as the only players in the modern era (since 1901) to make their major league debuts in the postseason.
New York also revealed some relatively good news about Tejada.
Ruben Tejada will not need surgery for his non-displaced fractured right fibula, Mets say.— Mike Vorkunov (@Mike_Vorkunov) October 12, 2015
Time: 5:37 p.m. PT
TV: TBS, though with Cardinals-Cubs starting at 3:07 p.m., that game is unlikely to end before Dodgers-Mets begins. If that is the case, Game 3 from Citi Field will begin on TNT before eventually switching back over to TBS.