If the Dodgers are going to finish off the Braves at home, it might be in spite of their scheduled starters, and not because of them.
Hyun-Jin Ryu has recently raised questions about the health of his arm after throwing a bullpen session on Friday with Don Mattingly and team doctor Neal ElAttrache watching closely. Predictably, that has people wondering if he's truly feeling right heading into a very important Game 3 of the deadlocked NLDS with the Braves.
So is Ryu hurt, or simply being careful? If you are to listen to him, it's the latter. What we do know is that his bullpen apparently looked clean, and he's saying all the right things by insisting he's fine. Perhaps we just need to take his word for it, but with the way the Dodgers have cycled through one injury after another this year, it's natural to be concerned.
The numbers suggest Ryu is healthy, because despite a 1-3 record in September, his ERA was 2.88. His WHIP was a monthly-best 1.08. It's entirely possible he was pitching somewhat injured all along, and it worsened recently. Dodger fans just have to hope this is all much ado about nothing.
Say the Braves get home field back by winning Game 3, then the Dodgers could be in trouble. Game 4 will see Ricky Nolasco take the mound, and while he's fully healthy as far as we know, his numbers of late certainly aren't. He was fantastic through two September starts, then was bombed in his last three, causing his ERA for the month to skyrocket to 6.66. Geez, just look at that number, 6.66. That's scary on many different levels...
Anyway, if the Dodgers want to win at home, they're going to have to have much better situational hitting than they did in Game 2. Usually their pitching takes care of itself, and maybe Ryu and Nolasco will be great, but there's definitely more uncertainty with them than Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. That goes without saying.
Hopefully by Tuesday morning, the Dodgers will either be preparing for the Cardinals or Pirates, or preparing for a winner-take-all start from Kershaw. If not, then the starters at home most likely let them down.