Five bowlers will decide the NLDS
SAN FRANCISCO — After the Giants and Dodgers race to finish the greatest league race in major league history, the two contenders are gearing up for their first playoff.
After two runs, a home run from left Dodgers player Chris Taylor against the Cardinals in the National League wild card game on Wednesday, Los Angeles will travel north to San Francisco for the highly anticipated NLDS starting Friday.
The difference between the Giants’ 107 wins and the Dodgers’ 106 wins was incredibly thin during the regular season, and head-to-head confrontations between the two clubs only highlight how evenly matched the two sides are this year.
In October, a single mistake can change the course of the series, which is why we are focusing on the five relief bowlers with the most potential to determine which club will secure a coveted spot in the NLCS.
1. Kenley Jansen
The Dodgers took an even closer win in Wednesday’s wild card game by offering a goalless ninth inning, but the 12-year-old veteran faced his biggest hurdles against the Giants this year.
Jansen scored 2.22 ERAs in 69 appearances and converted 38 of 43 block attempts in the regular season, but the right-handed went 0-3 with 12.15 ERA against the Giants. Jansen took losses on May 28 (Mike Tauchman’s game), July 21 and July 22 as San Francisco ticked him off for 10 runs earned at a small sample size this season.
Lamonte Wade Jr. is one of the giants to see Jansen well as well as Buster Posey, who hit Janssen and dug one field to the right before Wilmer Flores scored the green light at Dodger Stadium on July 21. .
2. Tyler Rogers
Just as Janssen struggled against the Giants, Gabe Kapler’s most trusted loyalist suffered his biggest setbacks against the Dodgers. Rogers is one of five bowlers of the past decade who threw at least 80 innings and made 80 appearances in the same season and Kapler is likely to use the durable sub in every close-season game the Giants will play.
Like Jansen, Rogers also scored a 2.22 ERA this year, but gave up six winning runs in six rounds against Los Angeles as Justin Turner, Will Smith and reserve catcher Austin Barnes were among the Dodgers causing damage against Rogers this year.
3. Camilo Duval
The 24-year-old right-hand man was not in serious consideration for a post-season roster entering September, but he will start October as a top choice in the ninth inning for the Giants after Duvall finished the regular season on an impressive stretch.
Called up to provide depth for the Bulls on September 5, Duvall began his dominance with 1 1/3 of the decisive innings against the Dodgers and finished with 14 more goalless appearances.
With an electric speedball and sweep latch, Duval drew comparisons to former Angels nearby Francisco Rodriguez, or K-Rod, who appeared at the end of the 2002 season and lifted his club beyond the Giants in the World Championships with an unforgettable run in October.
4. Jake McGee
With Tony Watson on the injury list for 10 days due to a mild left shoulder strain, McGee is the best left-handed option for the out-of-game Giants despite losing over two weeks in September with a slash strain. The Giants had hoped that McGee could play against Padres in the final series of the regular season, but the opportunity didn’t materialize, and now the former left-wing Dodgers will go to the playoffs hoping a live batting session from Tuesday at Oracle Park will serve as a blocking block.
After Dodgers lost Max Muncy to a dislocated elbow, most of the top players in Los Angeles were right-handed, so Kapler could potentially soften McGee against a softer patch of Dodger’s lineup. This means that if any part of a lineup of 106 can be considered a weak win.
5. Alex Physia
Right-handed Blake Trinen and Joe Kelly may be bigger factors for manager Dave Roberts to get out of the game, but the Los Angeles manager will likely use Physia against one of the Giants’ most striking hitters, Brandon Crawford.
Anytime the Giants have a left-hand pocket featuring Crawford because of his timing, Vezia will be one of Roberts’ top choices as a strong second half made him the most confident Dodgers in the South.
During the final two months of the season, Vesia proved he could be effective against both right and left as he scored 0.93 ERA and kept his opponents goalless in 20 out of 22 matches.