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World Series Game 3 Betting Preview: Dodgers vs. Red Sox

Can the Dodgers figure out a way to win Game 3 and avoid falling in a 3-0 hole?

The words "must-win" get thrown around a lot in sports. We often say a game is a "must-win" even when it truly isn't. "Must-win" is used when one wants to describe a desperate situation, where a team is seemingly in danger of being overcome by momentum.

So while Game 3 of the World Series isn't technically a "must-win" game for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as their season won't be over if they lose tonight, it would mean falling in an insurmountable 3-0 deficit in this best-of-seven Fall Classic to the Boston Red Sox.

The odds are already stacked against the Dodgers, but if they were to lose Game 3, they would have to do something only one other team in MLB postseason history has ever accomplished. That team was, of course, that legendary 2004 Boston squad that overcame a 3-0 series hole to beat the New York Yankees, a legendary squad that went on to win the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals to break their decades-long curse.

Tonight, the series shifts to Los Angeles, where the temperatures should be about 35 degrees warmer, but interestingly, the Dodgers actually had a better record on the road this year (47-34) than they did at home (45-37). Boston, meanwhile, had a better home record (57-24) but their record away from Fenway Park was pretty ridiculous, too (51-30).

In Game 3, the Dodgers will send their outstanding rookie starter Walker Buehler to the mound, opposed by right-hander Rick Porcello.

Dodgers vs. Rick Porcello

After facing two left-handed pitchers in the first two games, the Dodgers will finally get a chance to put their slugging left-handed bats in the lineup in Game 3. Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson were held out of the starting lineups in Games 1 and 2 so that Dave Roberts could put in an all right-handed lineup against Chris Sale and David Price, but by doing so, he sat 85 regular season home runs on the bench, as that trio was the team's three top dinger producers.

Against lefties, the Dodgers posted a team wOBA of .317 in the regular season, tied for 13th in the Majors. Against right-handers, they were the 2nd-best offense in baseball, with a .341 wOBA, thanks to their top sluggers being able to gain a favorable platoon advantage.

Porcello is a solid, if unspectacular, starting pitcher, who put up a 2.7 fWAR in 33 starts for Boston in 2018. He had a 4.28 ERA, 4.01 FIP, and a career high strikeout rate of 23.5% with a walk rate of 5.9%. Porcello was actually a better pitcher on the road this year, with a 3.86 ERA away from Fenway, than he was at home, where he posted a 4.77 ERA. But Porcello held his own against left-handed hitters in the regular season, allowing a .313 wOBA, compared to .295 against right-handers.

This will be his first career World Series start, but his third outing in this postseason. The sinker-baller beat the New York Yankees to clinch Game 4 of the AL Division Series, going five innings and giving up one run on four hits with no walks and one strikeout. He also started Game 4 of the AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros, giving up four runs on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in a no decision. In addition, he pitched twice in relief, and in two career starts at Dodger Stadium, he's 1-0 with a 5.91 ERA, but hasn't started there since 2011.

Red Sox vs. Walker Buehler

Buehler had a phenomenal rookie season that, in any other year, probably would win him Rookie of the Year honors, going 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 23 starts, with a 27.9% strikeout rate.

Opponents posted a wOBA of just .247 against him this year, with only three pitchers doing better: Jacob deGrom, Sale, and Blake Snell. He's been the Dodgers' money pitcher so far this fall, earning the win in Game 163 against the Colorado Rockies to clinch the division for L.A., and he started Game 7 of the NLCS in which he went 4 and 2/3 innings and gave up one run on six hits with seven strikeouts against the Milwaukee Brewers. He did have a couple rough outings in his other two starts, giving up five runs in five innings of work against the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS, and four runs in seven innings in Game 3 of the NLCS.

Buehler could be facing a Boston team without one of its stars, J.D. Martinez, who is dealing with an ankle injury. Martinez came through with a go-ahead two-run single in Game 2, and the Sox would undoubtedly miss his 43 regular season home runs, 130 RBI, 110 runs scored and 5.9 fWAR bat in the lineup. Manager Alex Cora has also ruled out the possibility of likely AL MVP Mookie Betts starting at second base, meaning if Martinez sits, Boston will feature an outfield of Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley.

Boston obviously did plenty of work offensively in winning Games 1 and 2 against left-handed starters Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu, but now they get to face a right-handed pitcher for the first time in the series. While Los Angeles did have the 2nd-best wOBA against right-handers in the regular season, the Red Sox had the best, at.349. And even though they won't be in their home park, the Boston offense hums just fine away from Fenway, with the 5th-best wOBA away, at .326.

One thing Dodgers pitchers must do a better job of finishing off innings and Red Sox hitters with two strikes.


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