Walker Buehler just finished up his second full big-league season, but he is already adding to the Dodger legacy in the post-season. He worked six shutout innings in the Dodgers 6-0 win against the Nationals, and now has a 16-inning scoreless streak in post-season play -- which includes seven shutout innings against the Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series last year. What's more, he has become the first pitcher in history to strike out at least seven batters in each of his first five post-season appearances (a total of 37 in just 29 2/3 innings). Hall of Fame right-hander Bob Gibson is the only other pitcher who did it in his first four post-season games.
At 25 years, 67 days old, Buehler became the youngest pitcher in MLB history with eight-plus strikeouts, no runs and one hit or fewer allowed in a postseason game.
“There's guys that want those opportunities, like those big moments, and want to be the guy,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “From that first throw, he was on point (Thursday night).”
Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran's post-season status changed in a hurry.
Right-handed reliever Chris Martin, who suffered a left oblique strain when he was warming up to pitch in Thursday's 7-6 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday, was taken off the roster. He cannot be reinstated unless the Braves advance to the World Series, but even if the Braves do advance, Martin's injury is likely to keep him from pitching again this fall.
The Braves opted to replace Martin on the roster with Teheran, who most likely will start a Game 4 (if necessary). Braves manager Brian Snitker said before the NLDS began that leaving Teheran off the original post-season roster was a difficult decisions, but Teheran did allow 14 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings during his final three regular season starts.
Teheran did, however, pitched well in two regular-season starts against the Cardinals, allowing one earned run in 10 innings. And the 28-year-old Teheran did start Opening Day for the sixth consecutive season.
Max Fried was the original expected starter for a Game 4, but the lefthander got the call in the seventh inning Thursday, retiring all three batters he faced, the last two on strikeouts.
Teheran allowed one earned run over the 10 innings he totaled in two starts against the Cardinals this year. The 28-year-old hurler made a sixth consecutive Opening Day start for the Braves this year. He struggled in April, but then produced a 2.67 ERA over the 23 starts made from May 5-Sept. 7.
Mark Melancon had his problems against the Cardinals in Game 1 of the Division Series. He not only suffered the loss, but also was charged with a blown save. He retired three of the 10 batters he faced, and gave up four urns. In 66 games during the regular season, Melancon allowed three or more earned runs in only three of 66 appearances, and was 12-for-12 in save situations.
But then the Cardinals not only won the NL Central division this year, but are franchise with an extensive post-season history. This is the franchise's 13th post-season appearance in 20 years. They have advanced to the World Series four times in the previous 12 appearances, winning world championships in 2011 and 2006.
To understand the Cardinals' post-season presence, consider that the four active players with the most post-season experience have been Cardinals for at least a portion of their career. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is the active leader with 90 games, all with the Cardinals. He is followed by Albert Pujols (77 games, 74 with Cardinals), Jon May (67 games, 58 with Cardinals) and David Freese (66 games, 50 with Cardinals.
The Nationals offense has disappeared. They did rally for three runs in the eighth inning to come from behind and knock off the Brewers in the Wild Card Game, but that one inning has been more productive than the Nationals 17 other post-season innings combined. They are hitting a combined .123 in the first three games, and in Game 2 of the NL Division Series they face the challenge of Clayton Kershaw.