The Dodgers’ chances of advancing to the World Series rest heavily in the arms of Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Rich Hill, sure. But for there to be a Game 7 of the NLCS, let alone a trip to Cleveland for the World Series, the Dodgers need the offense to produced beginning on Saturday night in Game 6 of the NLCS against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The Dodgers are hitting .228/.322/.355 this postseason, and averaging 3.6 runs per game. But they aren’t alone.
The Cubs are hitting .221/.282/.381, but are averaging 4.8 runs per game.
The Indians are hitting just .208/.256/.380 and averaging 3.4 runs per game, and they are 7-1 and waiting to host the first two games of the World Series.
MLB teams this postseason are averaging 3.70 runs per game, the lowest mark since 2013, when teams scored just 3.55 runs per game. And this is after a regular season that saw teams score 4.48 runs per game. The postseason scoring relative to the regular season is its lowest since 2012.
Runs are at a premium in October, which is usually the case, but even more this postseason. The scoring drought was never more evident than in Game 2 of the NLCS last Sunday, when the Dodgers beat the Cubs 1-0.
The starting pitchers that night — Clayton Keshaw for Los Angeles, Kyle Hendricks for Chicago — start again on Saturday in Game 6. Hendricks led the majors with a 2.13 ERA during the season and also put up a 3.20 FIP.
Kershaw had only 149 innings during the regular season, but posted a career-best 1.69 ERA and 1.80 FIP.
“It's going to be the same environment as last year, Kershaw again. I'm looking forward to it. It's a good matchup,” Hendricks said on Thursday. “I'm excited in a sense to get another crack at it. It's obviously going to be fun. It should be a close game.“
The lower the scoring environment, the more single plays matter, and mistakes get magnified and are more costly. The Dodgers made five errors in the previous two games, for instance, and were out-homered 3-0, on their way to getting outscored 18-6 in two losses to the Cubs.
A positive for the Dodgers in Game 6 — and in Game 7, if necessary — is facing right-handed starting pitchers, starting with Hendricks. The Dodgers are hitting .247/.342/.407 this postseason against right-handers, compared to .200/.291/.277 against lefties.
Men of steal
Despite leaving several stolen base opportunities on the table against Jon Lester in Game 5, the Dodgers managed to steal two bases against Lester and three in the game. So far during the postseason, the Dodgers have stolen nine bases in nine tries, after stealing 45 bases (27th in MLB) in 71 attempts during the regular season.
In the NLCS, the Dodgers are 8-for-8 in steals, one shy of their franchise record for any postseason series. The Dodgers stole nine bases in 15 attempts in the 1965 World Series against the Twins, and stole nine in 10 tries against the Mets in the 1988 NLCS. Both of those series lasted seven games.
NLCS Game 6 info
Cubs lead Dodgers in series, 3-2
Time: 5:08 p.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Joe Buck, John Smoltz, Ken Rosenthal)
Local radio: 570 AM (Charley Steiner and Rick Monday)
National radio: ESPN Radio (Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone)