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Three takeaways from the Dodgers’ win in Game 3 of the World Series

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The Dodgers are two wins away from the World Series

World Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Three Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Dodgers defeated the Rays on Friday night, taking a 2-1 series lead with their 6-2 victory. Here are three takeaways from the game.

Walker F’in Buehler

Need I say more? What a performance. Yesterday I posted an article where I briefly went over his last World Series start from 2018 where he absolutely shoved against the Boston Red Sox. I said there was no way for him to top that previous start. Well.... he almost did.

Buehler gave the Dodgers six innings of one-run ball. He allowed only three hits with one walk. Oh, he finished the game with 10 strikeouts.

Right out of the gate, you just knew that he had his stuff and he’d be in the zone all night. He had an 11-pitch first inning and his last two outs came via the strikeout. The Rays had no answer for him, as he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Manuel Margot doubled, ending the no-hitter. Willy Adames had a double of his own to make the score 5-1 Dodgers, but at that point you just had the feeling the game was out of reach.

Buehler ended his night by recording three strikeouts in the bottom of the sixth, giving him 10 on the night. He was only at 93 pitches, so he easily could have come out in the seventh inning. But with a five-run lead and a rested bullpen, it was the smart move to take him out of the game.

Through his first two World Series starts, Buehler has allowed only one run in 13 innings with 17 strikeouts. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The bullpen looked fantastic

Had it not been for the last-second homer allowed by Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers bullpen was nearly perfect last night. After Buehler gave LA six innings, Dave Roberts turned things over to Blake Treinen. This was his first appearance since Game 7 of the NLCS, so he was fully rested. He looked every bit of it, throwing a 1-2-3 inning on 14 pitches with two strikeouts to close the inning.

Brusdar Graterol followed in the eighth inning. Just like Treinen, this was his first outing of the World Series. He didn’t record any strikeouts, but he retired the side on only seven pitches. You can’t get any better than that.

Finally, Kenley Jansen came in to pitch the ninth. I don’t know what has happened this postseason, but Jansen looks like the All-Star closer he was years ago. His velocity has been up. His cutter has had movement, and he’s looked dominant over the last few weeks. Last night, he looked dominant again. Just like those who followed, this was his first appearance of the World Series.

His first at bat out of the bullpen? A three-pitch strikeout. Oh, and his third pitch? A 95-mph sinker. 95!!! What!? He recorded the second out on three pitches, including two more sinkers that reached 95-mph. With two strikes and two outs, Jansen allowed a solo homer to Randy Arozarena, cutting LA’s lead to 6-2. We’ll allow it. It was right down the middle, and Jansen closed things down in his next at bat to secure the victory.

Overall, you couldn’t have asked for a better and more efficient three innings from the Dodgers’ bullpen.

Austin Barnes should be the starting catcher the rest of the way

Although he doesn’t have the bat Will Smith has, there’s no denying that Austin Barnes is the preferred catcher by nearly every Dodgers pitcher. That’s no knock on Smith, but there’s no question that Barnes is the better option defensively. What Barnes brings behind the plate is huge for the team. If he adds anything at the plate, it’s an even bigger bonus.

On Friday night, Barnes got the start behind the dish and hit a solo home run. He’s quietly been one of the best hitters this postseason for LA, as he’s hit .350 in eight games. In addition to his homer, he also executed the perfect sacrifice squeeze bunt to drive in a run.

Who knows what Roberts will do the rest of the way, but it seems like it’ll be tough to not have both catchers in the lineup moving forward.