With their backs against the wall and facing elimination in the National League Division Series, the Dodgers changed up the lineup for Game 3, starting Kiké Hernández against Diamondbacks rookie right-hander Brandon Pfaadt.
Hernández starts center field in place of James Outman, who is hitless in five at-bats with a walk and three strikeouts in the series.
Designated hitter J.D. Martinez, who has the Dodgers’ only home run in the NLDS, was also moved up from fifth in the lineup to third, swapping places with catcher Will Smith.
The Dodgers started the same lineup in the first two games of the NLDS, their usual lineup against right-handed pitchers this season, and scored only two runs in each game.
“There is that balance of looking at it, it’s only two games, but the other part of it is that sense of urgency because this is do or die now,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters on Tuesday’s off day in Phoenix. “I do love the at-bats Kiké’s been taking, and kind of trying to figure out if changing the lineup a little bit as far as structure makes sense.”
NLDS Game 3 lineups
Hernández drove in a run with a pinch-hit single in the sixth inning of Game 3 and is one of only three Dodgers with an RBI in the NLDS. Hernández faced Pfaadt three times during the regular season — once with the Red Sox on May 26, and twice in August witht he Dodgers. He had a home run, double, and walk in six plate appearances against the right-hander, with two strikeouts.
Hernández appeared in each of the first two games of the series as a pinch-hitter against a left-handed reliever, then remained in the game on defense the rest of the way. He played shortstop and center field in those games.
Merrill Kelly blanked the Dodgers for 6⅓ innings in Game 1 on Saturday, and Zac Gallen allowed two runs in his 5⅓ innings in Game 2. Getting to a D-backs starting pitcher would be a welcome relief for a Dodgers team that is looking for some kind of offensive spark down 2-0 in the best-of-five series.
During the regular season, the Dodgers beat Pfaadt both times they faced him. He allowed four runs in 4⅔ innings at Chase Field on August 8, then allowed six runs (five earned) in four innings at Dodger Stadium on August 30.
Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward each homered of Pfaadt in that August 30 game in Los Angeles. They have a combined one hit in 12 at-bats during the NLDS.