Dodger Stadium felt like a graveyard for most of Tuesday’s Game 3 between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.
The heavily favored Dodgers were losing in the late innings and staring down a potential 3-0 series deficit. Thanks to a furious comeback, Los Angeles stunned the Braves and starts Wednesday’s Game 4 with a chance to even the National League Championship Series up at two games apiece.
Julio Urías — who entered in relief in Game 2 and blew a two-run lead en route to a crushing Dodgers’ loss — gets the call in Game 4 for Los Angeles on two days’ rest. The Braves will go with Huascar Ynoa first in what should be mostly a bullpen game, despite Ynoa serving as a starter for most of this season.
Drew Smyly could be a bulk guy for an Atlanta staff that might be without Luke Jackson and Tyler Matzek. Chris Martin and Jacob Webb are also well-rested.
Up 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Braves turned to Jackson who had tossed 4.2 scoreless innings in the playoffs. He gave up singles to Will Smith and AJ Pollock before Cody Bellinger — who struggled all season but has had some huge hits in the postseason — stepped up and drilled a high fastball deep over the right-field fence for a three-run, game-tying home run.
A few batters later, Mookie Betts smoked a line drive to right-center to give the Dodgers the lead for good. Kenley Jansen struck out the side in the ninth for the save and the comeback was complete. It felt like one of those momentous series-flipping games — much like Game 4 of the ALCS — but the Dodgers still have a hole to climb out of.
First pitch is at 8:08 p.m. ET. The BetUS Sportsbook has the Dodgers as -230 moneyline favorites and as -105 favorites on the runline. The Astros are +190 moneyline underdogs and -115 underdogs on the runline. Current MLB lines have the over/under at 8 runs.
Urías Will Get Back On Track
In addition to being a stellar starter for Dave Roberts since he entered the majors, Urías has emerged as a key weapon out of the bullpen in the playoffs, a role he played to perfection in the 2020 NLCS and World Series. So, it did make some sense for Roberts to turn to Urías back in Game 2 even when the Dodgers had some relief options still available.
Of course, in retrospect, that move didn’t work too well. Urías let the Braves back in the game before Brusdar Graterol and Jansen combined to give up the game-winning run in the ninth. But, don’t expect that minor blip to affect Urías since he has had a ton of experience stepping up in huge playoff moments.
Urías was effective in two appearances (one start and one four-inning relief outing) in the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants and was one of the best pitchers in baseball this season. He’ll bounce back against Atlanta, who he dominated in last year’s postseason and pitched well against during the 2021 regular season.
He’s a big reason why the Dodgers are enormous favorites today and, if you’re betting online, you should back their runline (even though the odds aren’t great). Los Angeles shook up the Braves’ psyche in Game 3 and are riding an enormous high that should help them out a lot, especially at home.
Braves’ Lack of Pitching Depth on Display
Ynoa was solid in his first full major league season, posting a 4.05 ERA in 91 innings in a campaign most remembered for his home runs in back-to-back starts and the broken hand he suffered when punching a dugout bench. He actually made his postseason debut in the 2020 NLCS against the Dodgers, tossing four scoreless innings in a blowout loss in Game 3.
This year, he has only pitched once in the playoffs, giving up two runs in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers. He probably won’t be expected to pitch particularly long on Wednesday night, especially if he runs into early trouble against Los Angeles. But, if he is in a groove, he could soak up a few innings before handing things off to Smyly or another member of the Braves’ bullpen.
The issue for Brian Snitker & Co. is that the Braves have almost exclusively leaned on the trio of Matzek, Jackson, and Will Smith in the playoffs. Jackson got lit up last night and both he and Matzek would be pitching for a fourth time in five days if they’re used in Game 4, which is something many managers like to avoid. Smith hasn’t pitched since Sunday, so he should be good to go.
However, the group of A.J. Minter, Jesse Chavez, Webb, and Martin isn’t particularly formidable, and it’s not like any of them are trusted by Snitker since they just haven’t pitched all that much so far in the postseason. It’s clear the MLB playoff odds don’t have much faith in those guys either so, if you’re looking for MLB picks, you should expect the Dodgers to hit them hard since it’s almost a guarantee that two or more of those pitchers will be called upon on Wednesday night.