Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to remove shortstop Starlin Castro from the game after he forgot the number of outs in the top of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Matt Carpenter hit a lazy fly ball to shallow left field where Castro ran it down. As he casually slowed down, Jon Jay on third base noticed his lackadaisical nature and raced home. Castro’s throw home was too late as the Cardinals went up 2-0.
Before the top of the sixth, Sveum told Castro to hit the showers. Donnie Murphy moved from third base to shortstop and Cody Ransom entered the game playing third base. The Cardinals would tack on two more runs that inning on a two-run home run by catcher Yadier Molina, upping their lead to 4-0.
It’s been a tough year for Castro. Playing for one of the National League’s worst teams, he is having his worst season by a mile. His adjusted OPS of 71 is well under his previous career-low of 100 (also the league average) set in his rookie season in 2010. According to Baseball Reference, going by WAR, Castro has been the third-least valuable position player for the Cubs with -0.5 WAR, ahead of only Brent Lillibridge (-0.6) and Scott Hairston (-0.6).
The book heading into the series was that the Dodgers’ starters needed to come up big for them due to questions in the bullpen and that the Brewers’ bullpen was going to dominate Dodgers batters, so they had best do what they can to score off of Milwaukee’s starters. So, of course, the Dodgers starters turned in performances of three and four and a third innings and eight of their nine runs the Brewers have given up have come from their relievers. I dunno, man. It’s baseball. It lends itself to anticipatory analysis worse than any other sport.
All I do know for sure is that this series has been as close as it gets so far, with each game being decided by a run and the outcome being determined late. The first two games have given me a sense that the teams are just feeling each other out and that the next three, in Los Angeles, will provide a bit more coherence to all of this. Not that there isn’t something a bit fun about incoherence when it comes to a playoff series.
Your viewing guide:
NLCS Game 3
Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler
Jhoulys Chacin had an excellent NLDS start against the Colorado Rockies, turning in five scoreless innings. If he does something approaching that tonight the Brewers will be in pretty good shape given that Josh Hader — who pitched three shutdown innings in Game one — is available again tonight. To the extent Craig Counsell needs to dig more deeply into his reliever corps, however, things could get dicey. Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Joakim Soria have combined to allow seven earned runs in four innings. Brandon Woodruff, who has been dominant thus far, throwing five scoreless innings, stands a good chance of being the opener for Game 4, so Counsell will likely try to keep him off the mound tonight. That puts a decent amount of pressure on Chacin to get the game to Hader with as few innings remaining as possible.
For Los Angeles, it’s Walker Buehler who, the grand slam he gave up to Ronald Acuña in the NLDS notwithstanding, was the Dodgers’ most dominant starter down the stretch. In keeping with the somewhat flipped script so far, however, the Los Angeles bullpen has been solid, allowing just two runs over their ten and two-thirds innings in Games 1 and 2. Not that Dave Roberts wouldn’t love to see Buehler go deep tonight too.