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Nationals/Dodgers

The first two games of this series have been long and somewhat messy, but they’ve both been close and competitive. The starting pitchers haven’t been so dominant as to choke off the action of the game. Neither game has seemed to get away from either team. The depth of each team, in the lineup and on the mound, has been on display. That’s why this series is tighter than any of the other three Division Series have been through two games. Now both sides will have their depth tested even further, having traveled across the country without a day off, and having used six pitchers apiece on Sunday.

Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez) at Los Angeles Dodgers (Kenta Maeda), 4:00 PM ET

PECOTA Odds of Winning: 62% Dodgers, 38% Nationals

Projected Starting Lineups

Nationals vs. Maeda (R)

Dodgers vs. Gonzalez (L)

Trea Turner (R), CF

Howie Kendrick (R), LF

Jayson Werth (R), LF

Justin Turner (R), 3B

Daniel Murphy (L), 2B

Corey Seager (L), SS

Bryce Harper (L), RF

Adrian Gonzalez (L), 1B

Anthony Rendon (R), 3B

Yasiel Puig (R), RF

Ryan Zimmerman (R), 1B

Carlos Ruiz (R), C

Danny Espinosa (S), SS

Joc Pederson (L), CF

Jose Lobaton (S), C

Charlie Culberson (R), 2B

Gio Gonzalez (R), P

Kenta Maeda (R), P

Injuries/Availability

The rainout Saturday stole the travel day the teams might otherwise have used to make their way West at leisure, and this schedule could be tough on each team’s veterans. Chase Utley rarely plays against left-handed starters anyway, but seems especially likely to yield to Charlie Culberson under these circumstances. Ditto for Yasmani Grandal and Carlos Ruiz (even though Ruiz is the older player).

Marc Rzepczynski is almost certainly available, because it’s October and he can be used as a lefty specialist in the right moment, but his effectiveness or longevity could be compromised by the 34 pitches he threw Sunday.

Outlook

The Dodgers struggle against left-handed pitching and Gonzalez is a left-handed pitcher. That’s good news for Washington. On the other hand, Maeda has been quietly brilliant for the Dodgers this season, and the Dodgers have superior depth. That advantage, combined with being the home team in a game that should find both teams a bit weary, could be enough to get them a 2-1 series lead. Now that there’s no chance of Clayton Kershaw coming back on short rest in Game 4, they must be hoping fiercely for that. —Matthew Trueblood

Indians/Red Sox

After getting blown out in Game 2, the Red Sox head home with their season hanging by a thread. Obviously the first two games didn’t go well for Boston, but Cleveland’s short-handed staff gives the Red Sox a chance to get back in the series.

Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin) at Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), 6:00 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 55% Indians, 45% Red Sox

Projected Starting Lineups

Indians vs. Buchholz (R)

Red Sox vs. Tomlin (R)

Carlos Santana (S) DH

Dustin Pedroia (R) 2B

Jason Kipnis (L) 2B

Brock Holt (L) 3B

Francisco Lindor (S) SS

Mookie Betts (R) RF

Mike Napoli (R) 1B

David Ortiz (L) DH

Jose Ramirez (S) 3B

Hanley Ramirez (R) 1B

Lonnie Chisenhall (L) RF

Xander Bogaerts (R) SS

Coco Crisp (S) LF

Andrew Benintendi (L) LF

Tyler Naquin (L) CF

Sandy Leon (S) C

Roberto Perez (R) C

Jackie Bradley (L) CF

Injuries/Availability

The starters from the previous two games are unavailable of course, so no David Price, Rick Porcello, Corey Kluber, or Trevor Bauer. Aside from that, Sunday's rainout should mean everyone else is a potential go.

Outlook

Despite a respectable 4.17 DRA, Tomlin wasn’t exactly Cleveland’s first choice to start Game 3. Injuries to Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco have forced Francona’s hand, and so he turns to Tomlin, the soft-tossing righty who coughed up 36 homers and posted a 5.59 ERA in the second half of the season. It’s tempting to call this a bullpen game from the start, but let’s play with some endpoints first:

Tomlin through July 17: 107 IP, 3.34 ERA, .254/.278/.468 opposing slash line

Tomlin after July 17: 66 IP, 6.11 ERA, .293/.312/.516 opposing slash line

Why July 17? That’s the day catcher Yan Gomes, a strong pitch-framer and reputable game-caller, went down with a shoulder injury. We haven’t untangled the relationship between a pitcher and his catcher, so I don’t want to make too much of this. It’s relevant that none of the peripherals we’d normally look for changed significantly. Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see if Francona decides to reconnect Tomlin with the battery mate he had so much success with.

Regardless, it’s hard to imagine Tomline getting through more than three or four innings. What’s interesting is to imagine what happens from there. If the game is close, will Francona again lean hard on his main bullpen? If so, he runs the risk of tiring his elite relievers a day before starting Trevor Bauer on short rest, a sequence of events that could propel the Red Sox back into the series. If he doesn’t, expect Boston’s slumbering lineup to wake up against the belly of the pitching staff. Cleveland clearly has an edge, and I’d imagine that Francona manages aggressively if the Tribe can get an early lead against Buchholz, who isn’t really a great option either. But it’s also not hard to envision a scenario where he rolls the dice with an eye toward game 4. —Brendan Gawlowski

Cubs/Giants

For the Cubs, going to San Francisco with a 2-0 lead in the NLDS is an enormous relief. That’s not because they face Madison Bumgarner in Game 3. The Cubs are the best offense in MLB against left-handed pitchers, and despite throwing his latest postseason masterpiece against the hapless Mets last week, Bumgarner is no Clayton Kershaw. He’s beatable.

Matchup-wise, though, the Cubs aren’t well positioned to beat Bumgarner. That’s why they needed both wins at home over the weekend, and why they had to be disappointed when Bumgarner and the Giants ousted New York in the Wild Card Game. With Jake Arrieta on the mound, Joe Maddon is likely to start Miguel Montero at catcher. (Arrieta benefits disproportionately from Montero’s artful framing at the bottom of the strike zone, and the rapport between the two men has helped bring out the best of Arrieta over the last two years.) Montero is a poor hitter against left-handed pitchers, though. So is Jason Heyward, but in the tricky right field of AT&T Park, it’s unlikely Maddon will sit his superb defensive right fielder in favor of Jorge Soler. That leaves the Giants with a healthy upper hand in this game, at least on paper.

Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta) at San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner), 9:30 PM ET

PECOTA Odds of Winning: 64% Giants, 36% Cubs

Projected Starting Lineups

Cubs vs. Bumgarner (L)

Giants vs. Arrieta (R)

Dexter Fowler (S), CF

Denard Span (L), CF

Kris Bryant (R), 3B

Brandon Belt (L), 1B

Anthony Rizzo (L), 1B

Buster Posey (R), C

Ben Zobrist (S), LF

Hunter Pence (R), RF

Addison Russell (R), SS

Brandon Crawford (L), SS

Jason Heyward (L), RF

Angel Pagan (S), LF

Javier Baez (R), 2B

Joe Panik (L), 2B

Miguel Montero (L), C

Conor Gillaspie (L), 3B

Jake Arrieta (R), P

Madison Bumgarner (R), P

Injuries/Availability

Coming off a travel day and with no one in either bullpen having thrown a large number of pitches in Game 2, both pitching staffs should be at full strength for this contest. The big lingering injury news is on the positional side. Soler has yet to appear in the series for the Cubs, after missing most of the final two weeks with a nagging problem in his right side. It’s not clear whether or not he’s 100 percent healthy. On the Giants’ side, Eduardo Nunez has pinch-hit in each game, but has not looked up to running hard at all. That hurts them both because Nunez was their starting third baseman and a competent bat who lengthened their lineup, and because if he were healthy, he’d also be a fine pinch-running option in a late-and-close situation. With his hamstring still barking, he appears utterly neutralized.

Outlook

The Cubs have the luxury of trotting out their optimal defensive lineup and not worrying about maximizing offensive potential against Bumgarner. In making that choice, they’d be trading some probability of winning this game for the chance of finding a breakthrough, and for the comfort of playing their primary style—run prevention first, especially by limiting opponents’ output on balls in play. The Giants are in the position in which we often talk about trying wild things, getting aggressive, getting creative, but in their case, it’s going to take a pretty boring shape.

Their offensive dynamism is limited at the moment, and on the mound, they would probably maximize their chances of winning by simply handing the ball to Bumgarner and letting him pitch as long as he can. This game can’t turn the series around. The Cubs won’t sweat it if they lose; the Giants; chance to really change the game would come Tuesday. If the Cubs win, though, the Giants’ season is over, so there will be plenty of tension in the air. —Matthew Trueblood