After splitting the first two games of the NLDS in Atlanta, the Dodgers and Braves reconvene at Dodger Stadium for a pivotal Game 3. With the series tied 1-1, it now becomes a best of three with Game 3 and. Game 4 set in the City of Angels. The Dodgers will have the opportunity to win the series in front of their home crowd, and you can be sure Dodger Stadium will be packed to capacity unlike the less than filled Turner Field in Game 1 and 2. There will be no foam axes to chop, but instead Dodger fans will receive rally towels which is a lot more politically correct than the Tomahawk Chop. The two cities couldn’t be more different, and instead of peaches and hash browns, there will be many a Dodger Dog to eat under the swaying palm trees of Southern California.
There has been some rumblings regarding Hyun-jin Ryu in the last couple of days due to a bullpen session he threw in front of the watchful eyes of team surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache, medical director Stan Conte, and Don Mattingly. Yet there shouldn’t be any cause for concern, and Ryu was merely throwing a bullpen session due to the long rest between starts. Ryu said “I feel really good right now,” and Mattingly said he has “no concerns.” Tim Federowicz also said that the bullpen session went well.
Ryu the “rookie” had a great first year in the Majors with the Dodgers and finished the season with a 14-8 record and even 3.00 ERA in 30 starts. Not only will Ryu take the mound for the first Dodgers home postseason game since 2009, but he will become the first South Korean pitcher to ever start a Major League postseason game. His home country will certainly be watching, and there is expected to be a large Korean fan turnout for Sunday’s game. Throughout the season, Ryu’s Korean fan base has supported him at Dodger Stadium and on the road.
Although he is a rookie, Ryu is an experienced professional ball player. He has pitched
in the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic along with seven seasons with the Hanwha Eagles where he had a record of 98-52 with a 2.80 ERA. He was a seven-time All-Star in the KBO, won the strikeout tile five times, the ERA title twice, the KBO Golden Glove twice, and in 2006 captured the KBO Rookie of the Year, Pitching Triple Crown, and MVP.
In 15 starts at home this season, Ryu is 7-4 with a 2.32 ERA. He has a 2.13 ERA against the Braves this season in 2 starts against them. He has yet to allow a homerun to an Atlanta batter. Ryu faced the Braves for the first time of his career back on May 17th at Turner Field. The Dodgers lost that game, but Ryu wasn’t involved in the decision. He allowed 2 runs on 5 hits with 5 strikeouts and 5 walks over 5 innings. Ryu pitched against Atlanta for the second time on June 7th at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers won, but once again the southpaw wasn’t involved in the decision. Ryu allowed only 1 run on 6 hits with 6 strikeouts and a walk over 7 2/3 innings of work. Ryu will have to be wary of Freddie Freeman who has 3 hits and 2 walks in 6 plate appearances against him this year.
The Braves will be sending 22-year old right-hander Julio Teheran to the mound on Sunday. The Colombian pitcher went 14-8 this season which is coincidently the exact same record as Ryu. His ERA was slightly higher at 3.20 in 30 games. Teheran is 7-5 with a 3.38 ERA on the road this year, yet he has never faced the Dodgers. The only current Dodger to have faced him is Michael Young who has struck out once in 3 at-bats against him. Teheran was ranked as the top pitching prospect in the Braves organization in 2011 and was ranked No. 1 by MLB.com among right-handed pitching prospects going into the 2012 season. Teheran struggled during his first stints in the Majors, but he has come into his own this season with the Braves. Can the Dodgers fluster the young righty during his postseason debut?
Sunday is a big day not only for the Dodgers but also for myself. In all my years as a Dodger fan I have been to countless games at Dodger Stadium. Yet I have never been to a playoff game. Scott and I will be attending Game 3, and it will truly be a special day for all Dodger fans whether you are at the game or at home watching and rooting for our Boys in Blue.
If you aren’t able to make it to Dodger Stadium on Sunday, tune into TBS at 5:00 p.m. PT. Come back and enjoy all of our postseason coverage including photos and video of our playoff experience.
If you are going to the game, let us know in the comments!