On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-1 in Game 3 of the 2017 National League Championship Series (GameTracker). The Dodgers now lead the best-of-seven series 3-0, meaning they could win the pennant as soon as Wednesday.
Here's what you need to know about Game 3.
This is part of why the Dodgers acquired Yu Darvish at the deadline.
Although Darvish was removed after 6 ⅓ innings despite a manageable pitch count (81), he found time to strike out seven batters and allow just one run. He also yielded six hits and a walk. Darvish pounded the zone and coerced 11 swinging strikes -- including seven on his fastball variations.
Darvish's career-long postseason start remains 6 ⅔ innings. That came in his first postseason start, back in the 2012 AL Wild Card Game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Cubs offense continues struggling
There are three statistics -- really, just three -- that tell the tale for the Dodgers offense this series.
First, the Cubs have scored four runs across the first three games. It's almost impossible to win when you're averaging fewer than two runs per game.
Second, the Cubs are 2-for-34 against the Dodgers bullpen in this series. That's not a typo -- they essentially had a no-hitter-plus thrown against them, going 0-for-29 before getting some hits against them in the ninth inning. The only players to reach against the Dodgers bullpen did so via hit-by-pitches. GIven how the Dodgers have been quick to pull their starters, the Cubs' offense has essentially vanished in the late innings.
Third, the Cubs are 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position this series. This stat tells you two things: 1. They aren't getting many opportunities with runners in scoring position and 2. They aren't taking advantage of the few they are getting. That's a bad combination -- the worst combination. That's a large reason why the Cubs are a loss away from winter.
Wind blowing out
How Wrigley Field plays usually hinges on which way the wind is blowing. On Tuesday, the wind was blowing out -- and boy, did some of the hitters take advantage. Let's touch on the night's home runs and their significance:
Kyle Schwarber opened scoring with a first-inning home run to left field. Entering the night, he'd recorded just one hit in his first eight at-bats. With the home run, however, Schwarber tied Anthony Rizzo for the most career home runs by a Cubs player -- yes, really:
Andre Ethier -- yes, Andre Ethier -- answered a half-inning later with a home run of his own. Ethier has become a forgotten man, given he's appeared in just 38 games over the last two seasons. Wednesday represented his second postseason at-bat, and yet he found a way to again burn the Cubs in the NLCS:
In his last 8 postseason series, Andre Ethier has hit 2 home runs. Both have come against the Cubs.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 18, 2017
Chris Taylor, meanwhile, became a known man this season. He's had a good series two, as he'd reached base four times over the first two games. Nonetheless, Game 3 marked his finest performance in the series, as he notched a solo home run and an RBI triple. In the process, Taylor hit the longest home run of the postseason and made some nifty history:
Chris Taylor is the first player ever to hit a HR in the same postseason as a SS and an OF.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) October 18, 2017
Taylor's HR projected by Statcast at 444 feet, longest this postseason.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) October 18, 2017
Darvish draws bases-loaded walk
Carl Edwards Jr. has worked a lot this postseason. He won't be placing his at-bat against Yu Darvish on his highlight reel. Edwards Jr. walked Darvish, forcing in a run, in the sixth inning. Brutal stuff -- especially considering Darvish had no interest in so much as swinging the bat.
Yu Darvish is the first pitcher to draw a bases-loaded walk in a postseason game since Larry Christenson in game 3 of the 1977 World Series.— Kazuto Yamazaki (@Kazuto_Yamazaki) October 18, 2017
Series odds update
The short version: things ain't great for the Cubs.
The long version: the Dodgers are exceptionally well positioned to advance to the World Series in the coming days. According to WhoWins, MLB teams up 3-0 in best-of-seven series win the set 97.2 percent of the time -- and win it in four games 80.6 percent. If those numbers play out on Wednesday, the Dodgers will celebrate their World Series trip on Wrigley Field's grass.
On to Game 4
The Dodgers will try to win the pennant on Wednesday night. Alex Wood will start for Los Angeles. He'll be countered by Jake Arrieta, who could well be making his final start with the Cubs, as he's a free agent after the season. The action will get started at 9 p.m. ET.