LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers and Brewers shift to Dodger Stadium for Game 3 of the NLCS on Monday night, with Walker Buehler making his second career postseason start.
Buehler will turn the page on his first taste of the playoffs, giving up five runs to the Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS. The rookie temporarily lost the strike zone, walked the opposing pitcher with the bases loaded and gave up a grand slam for a quick 5-0 deficit.
The calm demeanor Buehler has become known for in his short professional career, carried him through three more scoreless innings to give his team a chance to come back. The Dodgers eventually erased the deficit, only to lose 6-5.
The 24-year-old drips with confidence as he goes about his business on the mound, a trait that could carry him through pressure situations where others before him have failed.
“Well, I would say that I’m no different from them,” Buehler said. “I would say Atlanta, the outing didn’t go the way we wanted to. Especially in the situation that I was in, you could say that there was a little bit of nerves and anxiety but that happens.”
“My first time there, I think I handled it fine. My heartbeat, I felt good with. And was more upset about kind of the decision to throw certain pitches.”
It may not have counted as a postseason start but Buehler came one out shy of seven shutout innings in a Game 163 win over the Rockies that clinched the division. In 12 starts at Dodger Stadium this season, the right-hander allowed only 13 runs (11 earned) in 73 2⁄3 innings.
In nine of the 12 starts, Buehler was charged with one or less and never allowed more than two runs in any of the 12 games.
“That’s what you’re supposed to do,” Buehler said. “You protect your home-field and try and win games there and go on the road and try and win some there. So, no, obviously 50,000 Dodger fans behind you doesn’t hurt. And sleeping in the same city that you’re going to play in and not having to fly anywhere is big.”
The Brewers will counter with Jhoulys Chacin, a pitcher this Dodgers team is well aware of. The right-hander gave up nine runs to the Dodgers in Los Angeles back in August 2 during a 21-5 Dodger victory.
Chacin has appeared in 26 games (25 starts) over his career against the Dodgers, going 11-9 with a 4.41 ERA.
Milwaukee hasn’t revealed who would start Game 4 for them, in what is likely to be another bullpen game.
It’s possible that Freddy Peralta, who made 14 starts for the Brewers this year, could be the guy. But manager Craig Counsell has said everybody is available and they will figure out Game 4 after what happens in Game 3.
Game 2 leftovers
When the final out was recorded Saturday, the Dodgers had nobody left on the bench and had only Julio Urías in the bullpen. That didn’t bode well for Los Angeles on the road if the game had gone to extra innings.
But the Dodgers had a plan for pitching should it have gone that far.
“That would have been Rich Hill,” manager Dave Roberts revealed. “So in about the seventh inning I had Rick Honeycutt talk to Rich and just kind of gauge his temperature. And so he was in to go in an emergency. So that allowed for me to essentially deploy guys knowing we had some coverage on the back end.”
Having Yasmani Grandal pinch-hit in the seventh inning, Roberts not only used his last remaining bench player, it was also his backup catcher. If another catcher had been needed, one of the other seven position players on the field would’ve filled the role.
“That would have been Max Muncy,” said Roberts. “He’s caught before in the past, and we talked about it. He feels comfortable. Obviously not completely comfortable. But I think in that situation obviously you know that that situation might not present itself again.”
“There is a point in time where a manager has to make a decision whether you’re going to be all-in. And to extend the game is a bigger, a better chance than worrying about the fallout, and I think we were in that position.”
The decisions worked out in the Dodgers favor, setting up a tied series as they open play Monday night.