LOS ANGELES — Thanks to the weather postponement and the resulting truncated NLDS schedule, the Dodgers don’t have too much time to stew over what had to be a frustrating loss to the Nationals on Sunday in Game 2. Those two teams are back at it on Monday afternoon in Game 3 over 2,600 miles away, at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers had three separate innings when they loaded the bases with one out, and failed to produce any runs out of those situations.
They were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, after going 1-for-5 in Game 1.
“We had [Tanner] Roark on the ropes and I think it was through five innings, we left 11 guys on base,” manager Dave Roberts said in his postgame press conference on Sunday. “It was just that one big hit. We stressed him, and we had an opportunity to really put him away early.
“It's one of those things where there were some good at-bats, some hard-hit balls, the Howie Kendrick ball to left field squared up, didn't find outfield grass. You know, we had the bases loaded, so we had some opportunities, just didn't capitalize.”
But as is often the case with this team, it isn’t always the case that the performance with runners in scoring position is relatively bad. It’s usually the opportunities.
The Dodgers in 2016 hit .249/.319/.409 overall. With runners in scoring position, they hit .250/.331/.410. Pretty much the same batting average and slugging percentage, with a little more patience and higher on-base percentage.
But the Dodgers did rank 12th in the National League with 1,464 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, roughly 111 plate appearances — almost three every four games — fewer than the average team.
The Dodgers walked twice with runners in scoring position on Friday, and walked three more times on Sunday. That’s 19 plate appearances in two games, 9.5 per game, after averaging 9.04 PA per game with RISP during the regular season.
They had 12 such plate appearances on Sunday.
The best solution for their runners in scoring position problem is to keep putting themselves in those opportunities. Over time, things will even out and the hits will come. But this is a best-of-5, and now really a best-of-3 series, so there isn’t the luxury of time, and that’s why the playoffs can be a real kick in the shorts.
On the mound
Gio Gonzalez starts for the Nationals, giving the Dodgers yet another test against a left-hander, their first of the postseason.
If the Dodgers were to get those opportunities with runners in scoring position, it’s worth noting that opposing batters hit .333 (48-for-144) with RISP against Gonzalez in 2016, ranking 136th out of 142 qualified MLB starting pitchers, per Inside Edge.
Kenta Maeda gets the ball for the Dodgers, eight days after starting in the regular season finale. In 18 starts made on extra (five days or more) rest, Maeda had a 3.35 ERA in 2016, compared to 3.66 in 14 starts on four days rest.
But the difference in days rest shows more in opponents’ batting lines. When Maeda is on four days rest, opponents hit .245/.313/.393.
With Maeda on five or more days rest, opponents hit .216/.273/.332.
"With the rest he'll get before his Monday start, I think he'll be recharged. If you look at his last two starts they haven't been good, but his workouts haven't wavered,” Roberts said last week. “Talking to him, he feels strong. With these extra few days, I think he'll spit out a good one on Monday."
Game 3 info
Series: Dodgers and Nationals tied, 1-1
Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
Time: 1:08 p.m. PT
TV: MLB Network (Bob Costas, Jim Kaat, Jon Morosi)
Local radio: 570 AM (Charley Steiner and Rick Monday)
National radio: ESPN Radio (Dave O’Brien, Jim Bowden)