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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Dodgers have seen the future and it’s ace-in-the-making Walker Buehler.Except they need him to deliver now.Buehler will try to yank Los Angeles out of a 2-0 deficit against the Boston Red Sox when the World Series shifts to Dodger Stadium for Game 3 on Friday.Clearly Adam Wainwright Jersey , the Dodgers trust their 24-year-old rookie.He led them to a victory over Colorado in Game 163 that clinched Los Angeles’ sixth straight NL West title.The right-hander also pitched well in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series against Milwaukee.Now, the pressure is on the calm and confident kid from Kentucky horse country to keep them out of a potential 3-0 hole.“It’s a little bit different than a Game 7 tomorrow,” Buehler said Thursday, “but at the same time there’s a little bit of backs-against-the-wall-type of scenario.”Since starting the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Buehler has impressed as the heir apparent to three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who could opt out of the final two years of his contract after the World Series.“Walker is a tremendous talent,” Kershaw said after the NL tiebreaker game. “His competitiveness is off-the-charts, his ability is off-the-charts.”Buehler was 8-5 with a 2.62 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 24 regular-season appearances, including one in relief. He was especially good down the stretch with a 1.55 ERA over his last 12 starts.He’s been the Dodgers’ strongest pitcher in the postseason, even if his numbers don’t back that up. He’s 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA and at least seven strikeouts in each of his three starts.In Game 163 at home, Buehler tossed one-hit ball into the seventh inning and didn’t allow anyone past second base against the Rockies in 90-degree heat. Similar conditions are expected Friday in stark contrast to the chill that permeated Fenway Park for the series’ first two games. Buehler’s had one bad inning: Game 3 of the NL Division Series at Atlanta. With Braves fans getting rowdy, he served up a grand slam to Ronald Acuna Jr. in the second.But he immediately settled down and didn’t allow a baserunner over the next three innings to help preserve the bullpen. In all, he gave up five runs on two hits and three walks in five innings.“Anytime you’re in situations like that, the more that you can get there and live it yourself, I think does nothing but help you,” he said.Buehler struck out eight over seven innings of four-run ball in Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium, but took a 4-0 loss. He was cool on the road in Game 7, allowing only a homer to Christian Yelich and no walks in 4 2/3 innings.“To be in a hostile, really boisterous crowd in Milwaukee and for him to keep his composure and to execute pitches speaks a lot to him Michael Wacha Jersey , not only to compete but to eliminate kind of the outside noise and still stay within a game plan,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It just shows a lot of moxie.”The Red Sox counter with right-hander Rick Porcello, who is 1-0 in two starts this postseason. He’s also appeared twice as a reliever, with Boston winning in each of his appearances.The Dodgers could use some innings out of Buehler after neither Kershaw nor Hyun-Jin Ryu made it out of the fifth in the first two games of the best-of-seven series.“We expect Walker to go out there and pitch well and keep us in the game,” Roberts said, “and offensively we’ve got to go out there and get a lead.”Back in a National League ballpark, Buehler will be batting, too. He already has first professional RBI, having singled in the NL tiebreaker game.Buehler and his fastball that touches the high 90s will be taking on a big-hitting Boston lineup for the first time in his career.“He’s got weapons to attack particular hitter’s weakness and also go to his strengths,” Roberts said. “But the number one thing with Walker is that when he’s good, he’s got good fastball command.”Buehler has been through a lot in his young career. Drafted by Pittsburgh in 2012, he instead chose to attend Vanderbilt and helped the Commodores to the 2014 College World Series title.The Dodgers drafted him the following year and he received a $1.7 million signing bonus. Soon after, he had Tommy John surgery and was sidelined for 1 ½ years. He finally made his pro debut in August 2016 and was quickly promoted through the minors.The Dodgers called him up in September 2017 and he earned his first major league victory two weeks later.In May, Buehler had a no-hitter through six innings against San Diego but Roberts pulled him after 93 pitches. Still, he was part of the first combined no-hitter in franchise history.In June, he briefly went on the disabled list after taking a comebacker in the ribs. Yet like his team, Buehler didn’t stay down for long. He came back less than a week later to make his lone relief appearance.The Dodgers have played from behind all season, and the World Series is proving to be no different.“Now it’s time to get back to where we need to be,” Buehler said. The Senior Circuit doesn't have Mookie Betts , Mike Trout, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor or J.D. Martinez among its position players. That's helped three ace pitchers鈥擩acob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola鈥攎aintain a consistent presence atop the league's wins above replacement leaderboards at Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.The NL MVP voters should arguably gravitate toward one of those three pitchers. But while WAR is a helpful guideline in awards races, it hasn't and shouldn't determine who ultimately wins. That's too easy and, frankly, lazy.Indeed, the traditional measures of an MVP work fine. These aren't explicitly stated anywhere, but they generally require that an MVP be:1.A great player2. An important player on a contenderThrough the first five years of his major league career, Yelich was a great player on bad Miami Marlins teams. But with the Brewers in 2018, he's now checking both boxes with ease.Among NL position players, the 26-year-old ranks first in WAR at FanGraphs (6.7) and second in WAR at Baseball Reference (6.6). Brewers teammate Lorenzo Cain is the only position player ahead of him for the latter, mostly because of a huge gap(19 to 1) in defensive runs saved. Their defensive difference is less hugeinultimate zone rating(7.1 to 0.2) andStatcast's outs above average(16 to 3)metric.What can be taken at face value, meanwhile, are Yelich's offensive numbers.They include NL-best marks in batting average (.321), slugging percentage (.583), OPS (.973) and OPS+ (157). Factor in his 33 home runs, 21 stolen bases, 110 runs scored and 104 runs batted in Albert Pujols Jersey , and there isn't a more well-rounded offensive player in the National League.This is curiously good stuff for a guy who had previously peaked with an .859 OPS and 21 homers back in 2016. But it's also befitting of a natural-born hitter with low-key explosive power. To wit, Yelich hit fly balls and line drives at the same average speed (95.4 mph) between 2015 and 2017 as Yoenis Cespedes.At long last, Yelich's power has been unleashed in 2018.Some of that is due to him swapping Marlins Park for Miller Park, resulting in a career-best.627 home slugging percentage. Otherwise, it has to do with him pushing his ground-ball rate closer to the MLB average.Rather than fold under pressure, Yelich is only getting hotter as October approaches. He has an MLB-best 1.168 OPS and 22 homers since the All-Star break, and a 1.242 OPS and eight homers since August 29.That's the day after the Brewers found themselves in dire need of a spark upon sinking to a season-worst six games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central race. Yelich has provided it while mostly hitting in pressure spots (see his 1.13 average leverage index). In so doing, he's helped cut the Brewers' NL Central deficit to 0.5 games while also elevating them into the NL's top wild-card spot."He's doing special things," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, according to Adam McCalvy of "This is what guys in [the MVP] conversation do."What might matter most is how all of this compares to fellow MVP candidate Javier Baez. He deserves credit for how he's carried the Cubs amid down years by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, but he only has Yelich beat in homers (34) and RBI (110). With an .897 second-half OPS and an .850 OPS since August 29, he also hasn't dominated the stretch run like Yelich has.By way of a 1.046second-half OPS, Atlanta Braves wunderkind Ronald Acuna Jr. comes the closest to being Yelich's peer in stretch-run hitting. He nonetheless hasn't been quite as good. And like Baez, his overall numbers don't measure up to Yelich's.If the season were to end today, Yelich could offer everything that MVP voters typically look for. Because the seasonends in only a few days, it's safe to conclude he'll keep it that way.So, what the football dude said: Christian Yelich for NL MVP. Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.
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