Looking ahead to NLDS Game 3: Braves-Dodgers

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The Cardinals and Pirates will open this day of postseason baseball at 4:30 p.m. ET in Pittsburgh. As those two National League Central teams are wrapping things up at PNC Park, the Braves and Dodgers — tied at 1-1 in their best-of-five — will be preparing to get Game 3 underway in Los Angeles. Let’s preview the action-to-come at Dodger Stadium.

Julio Teheran earned a spot in Atlanta’s starting rotation with a sensational spring and kept right on rolling through the regular season, posting a 3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 170/45 K/BB ratio in 185 2/3 frames. The 22-year-old righty from Colombia boasts a mid-to-low 90s fastball that he throws on over 63 percent of his deliveries and a slider, curve and changeup that carry varying degrees of effectiveness. Teheran was ranked a Top 100 prospect by Baseball America in four different preseasons and has the raw goods to put up zeroes at any time against any lineup. But he’s one of the youngest starters in this tournament and this will be his first time pitching in an October game.

Also pitching for the first time in the Major League Baseball playoffs will be Dodgers Game 3 starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, a 26-year-old offseason import from South Korea. It seemed like an overpay when the Dodgers put up a $25.74 million posting fee for Ryu in November and then handed the left-hander a six-year, $36 million contract. But 11 months later that deal looks like a bargain. Ryu registered a superb 3.00 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 154/49 K/BB ratio over his first 192 major league innings this season and the conditioning concerns that arose early in spring camp never developed into anything more than baseball blog fodder.

Ryu was spotted wearing a sleeve on his left elbow last week and he threw a bullpen session Friday in front of team surgeon Neal ElAttrache, medical director Stan Conte and manager Don Mattingly. But the Dodgers are denying that there is an injury and Ryu reported feeling completely fine after his Friday workout.

The lineups should be posted at some point this afternoon. We wouldn’t expect any big surprises.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.