Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night -- stretching into Saturday morning -- was a war of attrition.
The Dodgers finally won, 3-2, on Player Page for Max Muncy's walk-off homer in the 18th inning that ended a seven-hour, 20-minute affair in which both sides used nine pitchers. But with Game 4 coming on Saturday back at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles can't celebrate cutting its Series deficit to 2-1 for too long before turning its attention to what's next.
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"Considering what we went through tonight, we're in good shape with our 'pen; we really are," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "... but considering where they're at over there, and where we're at, I like where we're at."
Roberts' decision to go for a two-inning save with closer Kenley Jansen could loom large. Following seven brilliant innings from rookie starter Walker Buehler, Jansen entered in the eighth inning to protect a one-run lead, but he allowed a game-tying homer to Jackie Bradley Jr. that set off one of the wildest games in postseason history.
Jansen came back for the ninth anyway and kept the game tied, with his two-inning outing the first of eight appearances by Dodgers relievers. So as L.A. attempts to tie this Fall Classic, it's clear that Jansen and his bullpen cohorts may need to stray from their comfort zones in Game 4.
Consider Jansen, who completed two innings in a postseason game for the seventh time. Out of the previous six, he returned to pitch the next day just twice, throwing a scoreless inning in Game 7 of last year's World Series and notching a one-out save in Game 5 of this year's National League Championship Series.
Jansen also has pitched at least two innings 13 times in the regular season, and he returned to the mound the next day in three of those outings. One was on May 9 this year, when he tossed a scoreless inning for a save against the D-backs. Jansen also threw a clean frame following a six-out appearance in June 2017. The only other example came when he allowed two runs without recording an out on May 1, 2013.
So combining regular season and postseason, Jansen has thrown at least two innings 19 times before. He came back a day later five times -- four of them scoreless -- but he lasted just a combined 3 1/3 innings.
In other words, Jansen might be able to give the Dodgers an inning in Game 4, but anything more than that could be a stretch.
More than likely, that leaves Los Angeles with plenty of outs to fill, regardless of whether the starter (currently listed as TBA) is Rich Hill, or Clayton Kershaw on short rest.
Like Jansen, Pedro Baez threw two innings in Game 3, with both that total and his 26 pitches counting as postseason highs. Baez did go at least two innings seven times during the regular season -- the last on Aug. 30 -- but he never pitched again the next day. He also figures to be on somewhat limited duty on Saturday.
Another righty, Dylan Floro, also had his longest postseason outing, using 29 pitches to get five outs. He last pitched that much on Aug. 26, and he only pitched on a second straight day eight times during the regular season -- none after an outing of more than three outs.
Righty Kenta Maeda, who got the Dodgers through the 15th and 16th in Game 3, has been a starter for most of his career and did so as recently as Aug. 10. Since then, however, including the postseason, he had recorded more than four outs just once. Maeda has rarely gone back to back, and never after going more than one inning.
That leaves Ryan Madson as the only righty on the roster not coming off a taxing outing. The veteran threw all of two pitches to one batter and might need to extend himself in Game 4, as he did in recording five outs in Game 7 of the NLCS.
Then there are L.A.'s three lefty relievers -- Scott Alexander, Alex Wood, and Julio Urias -- each of whom threw one inning in Game 3. Alexander pitched on back-to-back days 19 times this year and he figures to be involved once again. Wood is a longtime starter who has pitched on consecutive days once before this postseason. Urias barely pitched in the Majors this year after coming back from left-shoulder surgery, and while he has done a couple of back-to-backs in these playoffs, the team must handle the talented 22-year-old with care.
All of that leaves Roberts with a bullpen that should be mostly available, but with several pitchers who figure to be limited. That could mean lots of mixing and matching as the Dodgers try to pull even.
"The way that our guys, our 'pen, got the outs that they needed, and they did a heck of a job," Roberts said. "So you look at tomorrow after playing 7 hours and 20 minutes, our 'pen's in pretty good shape.
"So there's some guys that we wanted to stay away from today, namely Madson, Julio, but for those guys to give us big outs and pick us up when we needed it, it's kind of a signature of our ballclub. Had our backs against the wall many times, and for us to persevere, and like you said, it wasn't how we scripted it, but it was a big win for us."