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Chris Taylor highlights Dodgers’ depth & versatility in NLCS Game 3 win

MLB: NLCS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
Neither Cody Bellinger nor Chris Taylor started the season with the Dodgers. But both made tremendous contributions to a team now one win away from the World Series.
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers are one victory away from their first World Series appearance in 29 years, and Chris Taylor was a big reason why on Tuesday night in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Cubs.

Taylor homered to give the Dodgers the lead on Tuesday at Wrigley Field, just as he did in the sixth inning on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Taylor also tripled in another run in the fifth, and in the NLCS is hitting .333/.429/1.000 in three games.

In six playoff games, Taylor is hitting .280/.379/.640 with four extra-base hits.

This is a culmination of a breakout season for Taylor, one that saw him hit .288/.354/.496 with 21 home runs, 34 doubles, and 17 stolen bases. He is a vastly different hitter than the one who hit .234/.289/.309 in his first three seasons in the majors, totaling 318 plate appearances. That came from an overhaul to his swing last offseason.

“I knew I had to kind of make that drastic change right away and get out of my comfort zone,” Taylor said after the game. “I had no expectations going into it. I always had confidence in my ability, and obviously I was hoping it would come. But to say I expected it to happen as fast as it did, I'd be lying.”

Taylor started the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, narrowly missing out on a spot on the bench as a utility man. All five Dodgers RBI in Game 3 — two by Taylor, one each by Andre Ethier, Kyle Farmer and Yu Darvish — were driven in by players who weren’t on the active roster on opening day.

A career infielder, Taylor was up in the majors in late April, and ended up starting more games in the outfield (93) than he did on the infield (32) during the regular season.

“He's a tireless worker. He's got a great head. He competes, and now you take that swing chain, and he's an impact player,” Dave Roberts said. ”To be able to start him in center field the first couple games, and then to start him at short and to get on base, to slug, drive runs in, catch the baseball, he's a huge asset for us.”

Did I mention the Dodgers are up 3-0 without Corey Seager on their NLCS roster?

Taylor played the first seven innings at shortstop in Game 3, then shifted to center field. Charlie Culberson, who started the first two games at shortstop, took over for the final two innings. Dodgers shortstops this series are 4-for-10 with two doubles, a triple, a home run, three runs scored and three RBI.

Controlling the zone

Through three games of the NLCS, here is a big reason for the Dodgers’ success:

Dodgers batters: 18 walks, 20 strikeouts
Dodgers pitchers: 4 walks, 32 strikeouts

Up next

Alex Wood finally gets his shot on the mound, starting Game 4 on Wednesday as the Dodgers try to clinch their first pennant since 1988. Jake Arrieta starts for the Cubs in another 6:01 p.m. PT start.