Chris Taylor, playing short in place of Corey Seager, has a home run, a triple and two RBIs and the Cubs' bullpen falls apart again as the Dodgers take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS.

The Dodgers are one win away from appearing in their first World Series since 1988.

Dave Roberts talks about Austin Barnes starting over Yasmani Grandal

Austin Barnes (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Austin Barnes (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

After serving as Yasmani Grandal’s understudy for almost the entirety of 2017, Austin Barnes started at catcher in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series for the fifth consecutive playoff game. Grandal was relegated to the bench, even with the Cubs starting right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks. 

Manager Dave Roberts indicated Grandal is expected to start in Game 4 against Jake Arrieta. Grandal hit a home run off Arrieta in last year’s NLCS. Roberts acknowledged Grandal’s frustration with his diminished role. 

“I think he’s handled it as well as anyone who had been the starter the whole year,” Roberts said. “But it’s just more about each individual game that you look at, you have to look at it like ‘Who gives us the best chance in that particular spot?’” 

Barnes spent most of the season as the primary catcher against left-handed pitchers. He began to siphon playing time away against right-handed pitchers when Grandal’s production disappeared as October approached. 

Barnes finished the season with a .902 on-base plus slugging percentage against right-handed pitchers. Grandal hit 22 homers in 2017, but his OPS against right-handers was .790. Grandal possesses a stronger and more accurate throwing arm, but the Dodgers trust Barnes’ game-planning behind the plate. 

“Defensively, they’re very comparable,” Roberts said. “Yaz throws better. But as far as the game-calling, the blocking, they’re very, very comparable. We have two elite catchers.” 

But only one can start each day. 

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