The Pitchuation: Barring a last-minute switch to Zack Greinke on three days’ rest, a possibility manager Don Mattingly didn’t completely rule out either before or after Game 3, the Dodgers will send Ricky Nolasco out for his first career postseason start to try to tie the NLCS at two games apiece. In his career against St. Louis, Nolasco is 3-4 with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 61 innings spanning 11 appearances. He started twice against the Cardinals this season, once for Miami and once for the Dodgers, and pitched well, going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 12 innings of work. This season for the Dodgers, he was 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Despite Nolasco pitching horribly in his final three outings (which is well chronicled), the Dodgers were 11-4 in his starts after he arrived in the trade from Miami. The Dodgers will face hard-throwing Lance Lynn. Lynn will be making his 19th postseason appearance, his fourth postseason start and his second start in the 2013 playoffs. In his career, Lynn is 4-3 with a 5.08 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP in the postseason. In his playoff starts, he is 0-2 with a 6.92 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP. Lynn hasn’t lasted longer than 4 1/3 innings in any of his previous postseason starts. For his career at Dodger Stadium, Lynn is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP while striking out 10.5 Dodgers batters per nine innings. He defeated the Dodgers 7-0 at Dodger Stadium on May 24 this season, giving up two hits and a walk in six innings while striking out nine. The Cardinals were 19-15 in his starts this season, including the postseason.
Cards vs. Nolasco: Five Cardinals regulars have hit Nolasco with, well, regularity. Carlos Beltran (.340, a home run and three RBI in 47 ABs), Matt Holliday (.462, three doubles, a triple, a home run and seven RBI in 26 ABs), Jon Jay (.538, a double and an RBI in 13 ABs), Daniel Descalso (.308, a double in 13 ABs) and David Freese (.500, a double and an RBI in 12 ABs) all have enjoyed hitting against Nolasco. Yadier Molina (.273, three singles in 11 ABs) has had moderate success against the Dodgers’ Game 4 starter.
Down by One in Game 4: Since 1920, the Dodgers have been down 2-1 in a series on 15 occasions in 14 postseasons. The Dodgers were able to tie the series seven of those 15 times and subsequently went on to win the World Series in four of the 14 seasons in which they trailed 2-1 in a series. The Dodgers franchise has never won a best-of-seven series when it trailed 3-1.
Game 4 of the 1985 NLCS at Old Busch Stadium: On Oct. 13, the Cardinals tied the NLCS, and for the Dodgers, it happened in embarrassing fashion. Jerry Reuss faced off against John Tudor, who was working on three days’ rest after his Game 1 loss at Chavez Ravine. It was Reuss, however, who had extreme difficulty, as his former team knocked him around for seven runs (two earned) in the second inning. Current Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt relieved him with two outs during the second inning but couldn’t retire any of the four hitters he faced and was replaced by Bobby Castillo, who finally got the final out. By that time, the Cards had used eight singles, two walks and a throwing error by Reuss to score nine runs en route to a 12-2 rout of the Blue Crew.
– Phil Stone