This is it. If the Dodgers win, they travel to Chicago. If they don’t the season is over.
When the Dodgers decided to start Clayton Kershaw in game four on short rest, that gave them a much better shot at forcing a game five. It didn’t happen in the way we thought it would, but here it is, game five.
Rich Hill will start for the Dodgers. This is why I figured they shouldn’t have started Kershaw in game four. Thanks to the delayed game two, Hill is working on three days rest for the first time in his career.
Hill started that delayed game two and it didn’t go very well, as he allowed four runs in 4.1 innings. Three of those runs came off the bat of Jose Lobaton, whose fourth inning homer gave the Nats a 3-2 lead with one swing of the bat.
Other than that, Hill was pretty solid. He recorded 13 outs in the game, seven of which came via the strikeout. Six hits and four runs is obviously bad, but if he can avoid the disaster inning today he should be solid. This is an “all hands on deck” sort of game, so every pitcher other than Kershaw should be available. Maybe even Kenta Maeda out of the pen for an inning.
I’d be shocked if Hill went more than five innings. Ideally, he can get through four and give way to Julio Urias for another couple innings. With a day off yesterday, the bullpen should all be well-rested. Hopefully, no one is kept in their role. If the Dodgers need a big out in the fifth or sixth inning, get Kenley Jansen or Joe Blanton in there.
Max Scherzer will start for Washington on normal rest. He started opposite of Kershaw in game one, and while Kershaw wasn’t sharp in that game, Scherzer got hit pretty hard. He gave up five hits and four runs in six innings, but the Dodgers only had one baserunner after the third against him.
This is the main reason I wanted the Urias/bullpen game to come in game four. The Dodgers will likely need to score a bunch of runs to support that pitching. They put up six against Joe Ross and the Nationals’ bullpen at home. Now, they’ll need to put up runs against Scherzer and the more-rested bullpen on the road.
Scherzer hasn’t had a lot of success in the postseason and he’s never really had a MAX SCHERZER game against the Dodgers, but the Nats have to be feeling good right now. The series has played out about how it should. The Nats won two, the Dodgers won two (nevermind that each team won a game on the road). Now, the Nats have a to win a home game with their ace on the hill. That’s what you hope for in the postseason.
No surprises in either lineup today.
Corey Seager hit a first inning homer off Scherzer in game one. He hit another first inning homer in game two and a first inning double in game three, but doesn’t have another hit in the series.
Justin Turner has been the best bat for the Dodgers, and he also took Scherzer deep in game one. He’s reached base at least twice in every game this series and has five hits and four walks in 17 plate appearances.
Pedro Severino caught Scherzer in game one, but Lobaton hit that big homer off Hill. Catchers’ ERA is often not worth looking at, but this season Scherzer’s lowest ERA came with Lobaton behind the plate. However, opposing hitters hit for better average and got on base more frequently.
Other than that, everything is how it has been. Keeping Trea Turner off base will be key, as he’s spent the series causing havoc every time he’s been on base. He’s had six hits and a walk, and although he’s only stolen one base, the threat of him on first has clearly messed with how the Dodgers call pitches.
For the first time in the series, the game will be played at night. First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 PST and will be shown on Fox Sports 1.
If the Dodgers lose, the season is over. If they win, they’ll open up a best-of-seven in Chicago on Saturday.