The Nationals silenced the Cardinals’ offense in both games in St. Louis and return home with a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series.
In postseason history, teams taking a 2-0 lead in any best-of-seven series have gone on to take that series 70 of 83 times (84 percent). In all series with the current 2-3-2 format, those winning the first two games on the road have gone on to win 21 of 24 times (88 percent). The last team to drop Games 1 and 2 at home and then come back to take the series was the 1996 Yankees against the Braves in the World Series.
The pitching duels won’t go away in Game 3, with Stephen Strasburg taking the mound for the Nationals and facing Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals’ young ace who had a 0.91 ERA in the second half of the regular season.
Here’s what you need to know about Monday’s game:
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 3 will be on Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT on TBS.
All games telecast on TBS, FOX and FS1 will be available to MLB.TV subscribers who are authenticated subscribers to the applicable network through a participating pay TV provider.
What are the starting lineups?
Cardinals: Mike Shildt stuck with the same lineup for the first two games despite scoring a total of one run, because he saw these same guys score 13 runs in Game 5 of the NL Division Series. But he reconsidered that stance for Game 3, especially with the way José Martínez has been swinging the bat. As a pinch-hitter, Martínez delivered the lone hit in Game 1 and one of only three in Game 2. He'll start in right field for Game 3.
Nationals: The Nats' offense hasn’t been exactly on fire to start the series, but it has been far more effective than the Cardinals’ struggling lineup. Manager Dave Martinez decided to stick with Kurt Suzuki behind the dish, and Victor Robles returned to take over in center field.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Cardinals: Desperately in need of a win, the Cardinals have the right person on the mound in Flaherty (1-1, 2.77 ERA). The right-hander delivered victories when the Cardinals needed them most. He won the final game of the regular season, which clinched the NL Central for St. Louis and also shut down the Braves in Game 5 of the NLDS.
Nationals: After their first two starters carried no-hitters past six innings, what does Strasburg (2-0, 2.40 ERA) have in store to follow up? After a rocky start, Strasburg settled into his start in Game 5 of the NLDS to give the Nats six innings of three-run ball and put them in position for a comeback. He has been at his best in the postseason.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Cardinals: Once again, lefty Andrew Miller was brought in to get Soto out with runners on base on Saturday, and he did his job, getting Soto to pop up for the second out of the eighth inning. Unlike Friday night, Miller was left in to get Kendrick, and Miller struck Kendrick out swinging. Tyler Webb can also be used in those lefty-righty situations in the middle innings. Ryan Helsley has retired all six batters he’s faced this series and will continue to be used in high-leverage situations.
Nationals: Everything has gone according to plan for the Nationals in the first two games, their starters pitching deep enough into games that they have been able to get by relying on only Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson in the bullpen. If all goes well in Game 3, manager Dave Martinez would ideally hand the ball to one or both of those relievers and no one else.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Any injuries of note?
Who is hot and who is not?
Cardinals: Except for Martínez, who has delivered hits in both of his pinch-hit at-bats, there is not a single St. Louis hitter that is hot or even remotely warm at this point. On the flip side, the Cardinals have gotten excellent work out of their pitchers -- both the starters and their relievers. Miller has been sharp in both of his appearances in the NLCS, retiring all three hitters he’s faced.
Nationals: Rendon singled in his first at-bat on Saturday and now owns a hit in six consecutive postseason games, dating back to Game 2 of the NLDS. He is slashing .346/.457/.577 with a homer and five RBIs this postseason. And in the bullpen, Hudson has been excellent every time the Nats need him, amounting to 4 1/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts so far.