2022 NLDS Game 2 storylines – MLB.com

Will Leitch
We hope you found a way to sit next to a television all day on Tuesday, because that was fun. And we’re of course just getting started. But don’t get too used to it: There were four games on Tuesday, but the rest of this week, there are only two games each day. Wednesday, the American League takes a day off; Thursday, the National League does; Friday, the American League gets another one. If there are no sweeps, there will be four games again on Saturday.
But for now, there are two big ones in the National League on Wednesday. Here’s a look at the primary storyline for each team in each game.
Phillies at Braves (Phillies lead 1-0)
Zack Wheeler vs. Kyle Wright
Today on FOX (delayed start)
Phillies: Can Zack Wheeler put a hammer lock on this series?
Because the Phillies used both Wheeler and Aaron Nola in the Wild Card Series, their plan for beating the Braves was basically: Win both games with your aces and then just hope to scrape together a win with one of your other starters. (The old “Spahn and Sain” approach.) Well: Mission accomplished!
The Phillies jumped all over Max Fried in Game 1 at Truist Park, and Ranger Suárez and the Philadelphia bullpen did just enough to stave off the Braves, essentially erasing Atlanta's 14-game regular season advantage in the standings in one afternoon. The Phillies probably used more pitchers (seven) in Game 1 than they would have liked, but if you’ve got to rely on a starter to pick up the slack, Wheeler — who was fantastic in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series and has no problem packing on the innings — is the ideal guy to do it. The Braves looked to have nearly every possible edge in this series heading in. Now that’s all gone. If Wheeler can win the pitching duel, the Phillies could come back home to clinch … in front of a surely rabid Citizens Bank Park crowd.
Braves: Who’s going to get the big hit?
Playoff baseball is always stressful and exhausting, and it’s often frustrating. But the Braves’ offense was particularly frustrating in Game 1. In the first inning, bases loaded … zero runs. Third inning, bases loaded … zero runs. Fourth inning, two runners on … zero runs. They finally broke through with a three-run homer from Matt Olson in the ninth, leaving them one run short — and it’s not hard to see where they might have come short on that run.
The point is that the Braves, even with Fried’s struggles, missed out on a lot of opportunities in Game 1, which is particularly grueling when you lose by one run. (It’s also jarring for the Braves, who seemingly got a hit every time they needed one en route to a World Series title last year.) It’s fair to presume that those opportunities will be rarer against Wheeler than they were against Suárez and the bullpen. It definitely feels like a grind-out-at-bats-against-Wheeler game, with the Phillies' bullpen already a little worn out. But it's fair to say that, the next time the Braves have the bases loaded, they best not leave everyone stranded again.
Padres at Dodgers (Dodgers lead 1-0)
Yu Darvish vs. Clayton Kershaw
8:37 p.m. ET, FS1
Padres: Is there any bullpen left?
The Padres sure wish they were in the American League — and had a nice day off right now, like the AL does — considering what they just put their bullpen through. Mike Clevinger’s faceplant of a start put the Padres in a position where they had to fill a full 5 1/3 innings, and they were terrific: 5 1/3 IP, 0 H, 7 K, 2 BB, 0 R. But there ISN’T a day off on Wednesday. Which means San Diego really needs an excellent — and lengthy — Yu Darvish start in Game 2. The best bet the Padres had to win this series was to get dominant starts in the games that didn’t get stuck with Clevinger starting, and those need to start right now: Darvish, Snell, Musgrove, that’s the recipe for winning. And now it’s their only real shot: Those three, shutting down the Dodgers, for as long as they can. Good luck!
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Dodgers: Should we worry about the offensive shutdown?
You’d expect the Dodgers to knock around Clevinger: He hasn’t been his old self all year. But the rest of the Padres, specifically their bullpen, should have been grist for the mill. But nope: Los Angeles didn’t get a hit after the third inning in Game 1. Now the team is about to face the Padres’ GOOD pitchers. The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the exact guy you want up with a 1-0 lead. But he’s going to need some offense. The Dodgers have dominated the Padres all year, now boasting a 15-5 record vs. San Diego. Kershaw likely won’t need that much, support, but he’s going to need more than no hits in 5 1/3 innings. The Dodgers can overwhelm you. It’s time to start overwhelming.


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