Dee Gordon led the majors with 64 stolen bases this season, most by a National League player in six years. And that speed has become a big part of the Dodgers’ offense.
But Gordon has never had much success running against St. Louis and catcher Yadier Molina, and that could take away one of the Dodgers’ most potent weapons in the best-of-five National League division series.
“Yadi does a great job of taking care of what he can take care of. But it starts with our pitching staff,” Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny said. “And our pitching staff has done a nice job this season … trying to limit the running game.”
Cardinal pitchers gave up just 54 stolen bases, fewest in baseball. Matheny said they did that by varying their delivery times, being quicker to the plate and showing good moves to first base.
And when opponents did try to steal, Molina threw out 48% of them — including Gordon, who was caught the only time he ran on Molina this year. In his career, Gordon has just three steals in six tries against the Cardinals, matching his worst numbers against an NL team.
But Gordon says he won’t approach the series any differently.
“I’ve got to play the game the way I play my game,” said Gordon, who hit .433 with a .469 on-base percentage against St. Louis this year. “It’s gotten us to this series. So keep playing my game. That’s it.”
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said Hyun-Jin Ryu came out of Wednesday’s simulated game well and is expected to start Game 3 in St. Louis even through the left-hander has not thrown in a game since leaving his Sept. 12 start after one inning with a sore shoulder.
Ryu missed three weeks because of the same injury in May but returned to throw six innings and beat Colorado in his return. Then after going 19 games between starts because of a strained buttock in August, he went seven innings to beat San Diego his first time out.
“I feel much better than the last time,” Ryu said through an interpreter. “I think the obvious difference is the cortisone shot. I feel much better. There’s less pain.”
The Dodgers were counting on Ryu’s coming back all along, though right-hander Dan Haren said he had been preparing as if he would start Game 3. Even now, Haren said he’s been told to be ready to go as a long man if needed in Game 3.
Which sounds like the Dodgers are ready to bring Clayton Kershaw back on short rest in Game 4, despite Mattingly’s saying they would not consider that until after he pitches Friday’s opener.
Dodgers leave Perez off roster
The Cardinals decided on their postseason roster before they left St. Louis. But the Dodgers are still mulling over a couple of options, though Mattingly did say right-handed reliever Chris Perez will not be on the team.
As for the Cardinals, Matheny said right-hander Michael Wacha, who did not allow a run in 13 2/3 innings to beat the Dodgers twice in last year’s playoffs, will pitch out of the bullpen in the NLDS. Wacha missed much of the season because of a shoulder injury and has started just four games since June 17.
The Dodgers gave the Arizona Diamondbacks permission to interview third base coach Lorenzo Bundy for their vacant managerial job. ... Dodger Stadium parking lots will open at 12:37 p.m. Friday and 3:37 p.m. Saturday — about three hours before game time. Stadium turnstiles will open 30 minutes later. Both contests are sellouts.
Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.