Hernández: Why are Dodgers in control of World Series? Star starters didn't pitch Game 2
Julio Urías could give the Dodgers an edge if they start pitching in Game 4 of the World Series. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
There was little for the Dodgers to celebrate on Wednesday night.
Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May succumbed to stage fright again. The bullpen caused minimal self-confidence. Mookie Betts was kept in check, effectively ending the Dodgers Offensive for most of the game.
Hidden in the avalanche of worry that emerged from a 4-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the World Series, there was a small but important win.
Julio Urías did not pose.
This column has often been a place to examine the team's issues and shortcomings, but that feels completely unnecessary at the moment.
Because the Dodgers keep control of the show.
This is worth repeating even if there is a risk of coming up with Homer or disgruntled readers who believe in Curse: The Dodgers keep control of the series.
They are in control because of their rotation, an advantage manager, Dave Roberts, who is protected by making sure that Urías is available to start, or at least place, most innings in Game 4.
"We feel great," said Roberts.
Roberts recited the names of his next three starters, which explained why he felt like he was doing it.
Walker Buehler. Urias. Clayton Kershaw.
Regardless of how many strategies have evolved, the rhythms of the games are still set by starting pitchers. The last two nights were a reminder.
Kershaw was dominant in Game 1 and the Dodgers cruised to a one-sided victory.
Rays starter Blake Snell scored nine hits in Game 2 in 4 2/3 innings, and the Dodgers spent most of the night watching the game.
The series is about to take a sharp turn in favor of the Dodgers.
With the series even one game apiece, Bühler will start in game 3 for the Dodgers on Friday.
Bühler wasn't quite himself for the first two rounds of this postseason when he was plagued by multiple blisters on his pitching hand. But his last start was his best when he hit the Atlanta Braves with six innings in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
Dodgers ace Walker Buehler will be LA's starting pitcher in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Rays will counter with Charlie Morton, but the advantage lies with the Dodgers.
If Bühler is the team's most reliable big game pitcher, the starter of Game 4, Urías, has to be barely a second.
Urias has earned an earned run average of 0.56 in 16 innings over four games. In a relief appearance with five innings in the NL Division Series, he limited the Padres to an inexperienced run. He made his first off-season start in Game 3 of the NLCS when he kept the Braves for a five innings run. Four days later, he tossed the last three innings of a Game 7 win.
Kershaw will return to the hill in game 5. In the series 'opening game, he took advantage of the Rays' all-or-nothing approach, hitting eight and only giving up a run for six innings.
Kershaw could have stayed in the game, but after the Dodgers were seven runs ahead, Roberts decided to remove him, his pitch count still standing at 78. The early substitution should help in Game 5.
Advantage again, Dodgers.
Think about it: if the Dodgers win games 3 and 4, Kershaw will be able to win the game that will secure their first championship since 1988.
Their bullpen was still untrustworthy, but the schedule should help them. In contrast to the previous rounds, there are days off in this series, the first of which takes place on Thursday.
Roberts, who made the right calls to Bullpen in the NLCS, can line up his pitchers better.
"You can see where the helpers are hired tomorrow with the day off, we are in a great place," he said.
For the sake of reasoning, consider the possibility of the series stretching to six games, or, God forbid, seven.
While Gonsolin or May would be there for game 6, another fascinating alternative has emerged in Alex Wood.
Injuries limited Wood to just two starts in the pandemic-shortened regular season. But he threw a goalless inning in Game 3 of the NLCS and fired two more zeros on Wednesday night.
In the 2017 World Series, he was the only Dodgers starter who could hold his own against the shield-robbing Houston Astros in Minute Maid Park.
"He's done really well all this postseason," said Roberts. “And I just really like the way he attacked the zone. He has a few days off and after that we will do some kind of reevaluation for him. "
What if there is a game 7?
The Dodgers start Bühler.
In other words, something cataclysmic would have to happen for them to lose this series that remains to be lost.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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