NLDS Game 4 Preview: New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Wild Card games are over and the Divisional Series matchups are set. The New York Mets will play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the best of five series. Pete Hodges has an NLDS game 4 preview of the matchup.

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New York Mets (90-72) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70)

New York won the season series (4-3)

Series Schedule:

Game 1: New York won 3-1

Game 2: Los Angeles won 5-2

Game 3: New York won 13-7

Game 4 @ New York Tuesday 8:00 PM 10/13 2015 on FS1

Game 5 (if needed) @Los Angeles Thursday 8:00 PM 10/15 on FS1

All times are Eastern

Probable Starters:

Game 4: Clayton Kershaw (L) (16-7) vs. Steven Matz (L) (4-0)

Game 5: Jacob deGrom (R) (14-8) vs. TBD[/box]

Game 3 Recap

Game 3 was not the game to watch if you like a pitchers’ duel. The scoring started in the second inning, as the bases were loaded by three consecutive singles hit by Justin Turner, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford. Yasmani Grandal would make it four singles in a row, and knock in the first two runs of the game. Matt Harvey then settled down, getting the next three batters to end the inning.

Brett Anderson entered the second with a nice two-run lead, but it would not last. The Mets matched the four singles in a row with four of their own: Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wilmer Flores led off the inning with singles, making the score 2-1 and loading the bases. Anderson looked like he may get out of it, as a ground out by Juan Lagares led to a force out at home, and Harvey struck out. However, Curtis Granderson had a different idea, launching a bases clearing double to center field, staking the Mets to a 4-3 lead.

Harvey kept the Dodgers scoreless for the rest of his five-inning outing, but the Mets offense was relentless. Cespedes came up again in the third, and with one out hit his second single in as many innings. Two batters later d’Arnaud crushed a first-pitch 83-mph changeup out to left field, increasing the Mets lead, 6-3.

Anderson was replaced by Alex Wood, but the Mets did not seem to care who was pitching. Lagares led the inning off with a double, but Wood got the next two batters, giving Dodgers’ fans hope that the bleeding would stop. However, after intentionally walking David Wright, David Murphy stroked a one-run single, followed by a Yoenis Cespedes home run. Wood struck out Lucas Duda to end the inning but the damage was done, with the score at 10-3.

Wood settled down and pitched a scoreless fifth and then Yimi Garcia completed a scoreless sixth. Bartolo Colon yielded a solo home run to Adrian Gonzalez in the seventh inning, bringing the score to 10-4.

Dodgers’ reliever Pedro Baez did not have his best stuff as he entered the game in the seventh inning, giving up a leadoff single to d’Arnaud, followed by back-to-back walks. Baez was then relieved by J.P. Howell, who came on with the bases loaded and no outs. Rookie Michael Conforto lifted a sacrifice fly to center field scoring d’Arnaud, and then Granderson hit a two-run double. Howell got the next two batters, ending the inning at 13-4.
The Dodgers attempted to make things interesting in the ninth as Howie Kendrick hit a three-run homer, but it was hopeless. The Mets would bring in closer Jeurys Familia with a man on first and no outs, and Familia did his job. The Mets gained a 2-1 advantage in the series, winning 13-7.

New York Mets

The New York Mets’ young rotation led the way and the trade deadline acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes helped push the Mets to a NL East Division title.

Overall

The Mets scored 683 runs, good for 7th place in the NL. Their 177 home runs tied with the Washington Nationals for 3rd place, while their 51 steals placed last in the NL. The team hit .244/.312/.400 with a .287 BABIP, and had the 9th best wOBA in the league at .309.

Starters

New York’s rotation recorded a 64-51 record, with a 3.44 ERA, 3.50 FIP and 3.49 xFIP. Batters hit .243 against the starters, striking out 21.6% of the time and walking 5.2%, for a combined starters’ WHIP of 1.15.

Steven Matz made his major-league debut on June 28, allowing 2 earned runs over 7 ⅔ innings, while striking out six. His second start showed the first was no fluke, as he pitched 6 innings of shutout ball while striking out eight Dodgers. Then on July 9 the Mets announced that Matz had suffered a partial tear to his lat muscle and he would not appear in another game for two months.

Matz returned on September 6 and made four starts to close out the last month of the regular season. In those four starts, the lefty posted a 2.86 ERA, a 3.18 FIP, and a 3.21 xFIP over 22 innings. The rookie relied heavily on his four-seam fastball (68.23%), while his favorite secondary pitch is a curveball (19.79%). He also throws a change (9.90%) and a slider (1.91%). He throws his fastball and curve 95- and 77-mph, respectively.

The Relievers

New York’s bullpen posted a 26-21 record with a 3.48 ERA in 460 innings pitched. The relievers had 50 saves, 71 holds and 21 blown saves. Their K/9 and BB/9 were 8.73 and 3.33, respectively. They kept opposing hitters to 0.83 HR/9 while allowing a BAA of .230 and .286 BABIP.

Jeurys Familia settled into the closer’s role well this season, saving 43 games while only blowing 5 leads. The righty struck out 9.92 batters per nine innings while walking 2.19.

The Offense

The addition of Yoenis Cespedes helped to energize the Mets’ second half. They hit .257/.328/.443 after the break, as compared to .233/.298/.363 in the first half. New York’s offense is evenly split versus righties (.245/.312/.397)and lefties (.243/.312/.411). The Mets hit better on the road with a .255/.319/.411 line while hitting .233/.304/.389 at Citi Field.

After a deadline deal, Cespedes caught fire, hitting 17 home runs in 57 games (a 48 home run pace over 162 games) with a line of .287/.337/.604. Rookie and midseason call up Michael Conforto also impressed, hitting .270/.335/.506 with 9 home runs in 56 games.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Expectations were high for the Dodgers entering the season, given they have the highest payroll in MLB. Los Angeles scored 667 runs which was good for 8th place in the NL. Their 187 home runs led the NL while their 59 steals put them 13th. The Dodgers hit for a .250/.326/.413 line with a league leading .322 wOBA.

Starters

The Dodgers’ rotation notched a 64-42 record with a 3.24 ERA, 3.40 FIP and 3.25 xFIP. They held opposing batters to a .237 average while striking out 22.3% and walking 6.2%. The rotation is led by bona fide aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Clayton Kershaw took the loss in Game 1,  being outpitched by Jacob deGrom. Kershaw went 6 ⅔ innings, allowing three earned runs, four hits and four walks while striking out 11. However, that performance wasn’t enough as deGrom dominated the Dodgers lineup. Kershaw’s career playoff record now stands at 1-6 with a 4.99 ERA.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner went 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA, 1.99 FIP, and 2.09 xFIP in the regular season. The lefty relies on his four-seam fastball (63.34%) and slider (21.14%). He also mixes in a curve (12.76%) and the occasional changeup (2.72%). His fastball sits at 94-mph, while his slider is usually around 85-mph.

The Relievers

The Dodgers’ bullpen racked up a 28-28 record with a 3.91 ERA in 467 ⅓ innings. The relievers had 47 saves, 87 holds and blew 21 saves. Their K/9 and BB/9 were 9.96 and 2.89, respectively. The ‘pen allowed 0.98 HR/9 and held hitters to a .246 average.

Closer Kenley Jansen put up his usual impressive numbers, saving 36 games, striking out 13.76 batters per nine innings, and walking 1.38 per nine.

The Offense

The Dodgers were pretty steady throughout the year hitting .252/.329/.428 in the first half while hitting .248/.323/.393 in the second half. Los Angeles hit slightly better against lefties (.264/.337/.418) than righties (.245/.322/.411). The Dodgers also hit better at Chavez Ravine with a .251/.321/.425 at home, while hitting .249/.331/.401 away from Los Angeles.

Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez anchored the lineup in 2015. Howie Kendrick, acquired in an offseason trade, has provided solid offense from second base, batting .295/.336/.746.

Pete Hodges has also written about the origins of the rally cap and the call up of Luis Severino.

Follow Pete on Twitter @PeterWHodges.

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