Dodgers vs. Cardinals: Keys to Each Team Winning NLCS Game 4
Still down 2-1 in the series, the Dodgers have some work to do as Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA) takes the hill for the Cardinals. The Dodgers will counter with Ricky Nolasco (13-11, 3.70 ERA).
A win by the Dodgers puts them in great position, as Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw will each get another start. Conversely, a loss gives the Cardinals three chances to win the series.
Here's a look at a few keys for both teams in Game 4.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats obtained from Baseball-Reference.com.
Dodgers: Ricky Nolasco Must Forget About History
Ricky Nolasco hasn't exactly had a ton of success against many of the Cardinals' hitters. In fact, his career numbers are a little concerning.
Each hitter listed has had success against Nolasco. However, that's something Nolasco has put behind him.
He has a good repertoire of pitches—most notably his slider. According to Brooks Baseball, it's a pitch batters are hitting .191 against. Nolasco has also gotten the most strikeouts out of that pitch (89).
If he can get to a two-strike count, that needs to be his go-to pitch, as hitters struggle with it and will strike out more often than not.
Cardinals: Matt Carpenter Has to Get on Base
Matt Carpenter has largely been absent at the top of the order this postseason. Through eight playoff games, he is batting .100 with nine strikeouts and three walks.
He simply hasn't gotten the job done, and the Cardinals need him to set the tone at the top of the lineup.
During the regular season, Carpenter batted .318 with 11 home runs and 78 RBI. When he gets on base, guys like Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are more successful.
Beltran has the same average (.296) with the bases empty and men on base, but he's very dangerous with runners in scoring position, hitting .374 in such situations. Carpenter, who led the majors in doubles in the regular season, could set up a big inning with a two-bagger.
For Holliday, he's batting .357 with 13 home runs and 85 RBI with runners on. Compare that to a .250 average when nobody is on base.
Carpenter holds the key for the Cardinals. If he can produce and get on base, so will Beltran and Holliday.
Dodgers: Keep Yasiel Puig Hot
In a Bleacher Report story published on Monday, I wrote that Yasiel Puig needed to step up for the Dodgers before it was too late.
Prior to Game 3, Puig was 0-for-10 with six strikeouts. He didn't start out the third game well either, as he struck out in the second inning.
But then he caught fire.
Puig had an RBI triple that scored Adrian Gonzalez in the fourth inning and a single in the seventh inning to really get going.
According to ESPN.com, Beltran wasn't pleased with Puig flipping his bat on the triple, thinking it was a home run.
"As a player, I just think he doesn't know [how to act]," Beltran said. "That's what I think. He really doesn't know. He must think that he's still playing somewhere else.
"He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that—great ability, great talent. I think with time he'll learn that you've got to act with a little bit more calm."
Whether or not you agree with Beltran's opinion, you can't deny that Puig provides energy throughout his team's lineup.
If Puig can provide that same type of energy, the Dodgers are going to make this a great series. The only suggestion for Puig might be to run hard until the ball clears the fence—then celebrate.
Cardinals: Lance Lynn Must Build on Success
Lance Lynn has had a lot of success against members of the Dodgers in his three-year career. In that span, the Dodgers as a whole are hitting .145 against him with no home runs and three RBI.
Here's how Los Angeles' big hitters have fared against Lynn:
It should also be noted that Puig is 0-for-1 against Lynn.
Combined, Dodgers hitters have eight hits in 54 at-bats against Lynn with no home runs. It may not be an extensive history, but it's still a good history for Lynn.
If the Cardinals are to win Game 4, Lynn has to continue his success against the Dodgers' hitters.
Dodgers: Bullpen Must Continue to Hold Down the Fort
The Dodgers bullpen has done a great job of holding down the fort in this series.
In Game 1, the bullpen had a small hiccup from Chris Withrow, as he allowed a single and a walk in the 13th inning before Kenley Jansen gave up the game-winning hit.
If you throw that out, the Dodgers have gotten eight innings from their bullpen with only two hits and no runs allowed.
Nolasco isn't expected to go the distance in Game 4, and the Dodgers are going to need the bullpen to continue putting up zeros.