3 keys for Dodgers to finish off Cubs in NLCS

October 18th, 2017

CHICAGO -- With six consecutive wins to begin the postseason, the Dodgers need one more to reach the World Series for the first time in 29 years.

Following a 6-1 victory Tuesday of Game 3 in the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World, Los Angeles can secure its first trip to the Fall Classic since 1988.

:: NLCS schedule and coverage ::

Dress for the NLCS: Get Dodgers postseason gear

Here are three keys for them to get there on Wednesday night:

1. Use the bullpen

It's no slight to starting pitcher Alex Wood to say that manager Dave Roberts would be best served using his bullpen early. The Dodgers had a day off Monday, and they got 6 1/3 innings from on Tuesday. It's a fresh 'pen -- and one that has allowed only two hits and no runs in 10 2/3 innings this series.

"Guys are ready from the fifth inning on, and earlier if need be," said righty reliever . "We're ready for anything."

With a win on Wednesday, there will be plenty of time for the relief corps to rest before Game 1 of the World Series next Tuesday night.

2. Make Arrieta work

It took Cubs Game 4 starter 90 pitches to get through four innings against the Nationals in the NL Division Series. That's a recipe for disaster right now given the way the Cubs' bullpen has come unraveled in this series.

Compared to the Dodgers', Chicago's relief corps is neither deep nor rested right now. In three games this series, the club's bullpen ERA sits at 6.54.

An early exit from Arrieta could prompt some desperate decision-making in the Cubs' dugout, too. With his back against the wall, Chicago manager Joe Maddon could conceivably call on Game 1 starter or Game 2 starter in relief.

If that's the case, the Dodgers would still be set up nicely for Game 5, in the event of a loss.

3. Start it at the top

Chris Taylor sparked the Dodgers' offense on Tuesday night, and he'll have the chance to serve as a tone-setter again Wednesday. He's 4-for-13 in the series with a triple and a pair of homers. And his two hits on Tuesday -- a third-inning long ball and a fifth-inning RBI triple -- each served to take the Wrigley Field crowd out of the game.

Here's one way of looking at things: and -- arguably the two best hitters on the Dodgers' roster -- combined to go 0-for-8 on Tuesday night, and L.A. still won by five runs. If Taylor can set the table for that duo Wednesday, there's a good chance they cash in.

"We'll come in with the same mindset tomorrow and focus on getting that one win," Taylor said. "[We're] not worried about the next games."

Win Wednesday, and they won't ever have to.