Despite a convincing lead in the NLDS, the Mets know the series is far from over
The percentages play right into the Mets hands as they prepare for game four of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers.
The team that wins game three in a tied series has gone on to win 75.6 percent of the time.
But of course, the game isn’t determined on statistics. It simply provides a measurement for success and failure in this case.
Often times, those measurements go out the window, especially with the Mets facing Clayton Kershaw in game four at Citi Field, and if there is a game five, Zack Greinke back in Los Angeles on Thursday.
“We came into this knowing we were going to see him twice and possibly Greinke twice. That’s a tall order for anybody, any team. But it is what it is,” manager Terry Collins said early Tuesday.
If Kershaw is on in a similarly to how he was last Friday in Los Angeles, the Mets are going to have their work cut out for him. He has a 1.02 ERA in his career at Citi Field, and threw an absolute gem in New York in late July when he allowed just three hits while fanning 11 in a complete-game shutout of the Mets.
But things are a little different today.
For starters, the lineup he faced that night had John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell hitting third and fourth against the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
But Kershaw has already had to navigate a revamped Mets lineup in this series, and while he pitched well he still lost thanks to their ability to work and stay alive in counts as well as drive his pitch count up early in game one.
“He’s coming back on short rest,” Collins explained. “I don’t know how long a leash he’s going to have, but we gotta make him work as we did the other day in Los Angeles. That’s the only way when you face him. You better hunt a pitch and you better hit it.
“If he’s on, he’s real tough,” Collins concluded.
Kershaw has pitched well on three-days rest in his career. He has only done it once during the regular season in his career, and he owns a 2.24 ERA in 12 innings over two career starts in the playoffs on three-days rest. He threw six innings in each of those two starts and never threw more than 102 pitches in either of them.
However, Kershaw’s postseason record will always loom as a dark cloud over his head. He’s just 1-6 with a 4.99 ERA in 12 appearances and nine starts in his postseason career.
Kershaw is also 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in elimination games in the postseason, and the Dodgers went just 7-9 in Kershaw’s starts away from Dodger Stadium.
Again, the statistics and history suggest the Mets are in good shape for game four.
Then again, this is a three-time Cy Young Award winner with a 2.43 career ERA and a nasty curveball staring them right in the face.
Kershaw is Kershaw, even for a few innings on three-days rest, the Mets will have another tall task, as those statistics and trends will suddenly mean very little.
The Mets need to be ready for that.