The Dodgers and Nationals in game five of the NLDS. A familiar scenario in which the Dodgers may turn to a familiar script.
Dodgers and Nationals have taken their 2019 NLDS down to the wire. Now the two teams will square off in a game five where one team will see their season end while the other will advance to the NLCS with their World Series hopes intact. The Dodgers and Nationals have been here before, literally, as the same two clubs faced off in game 5 of the 2016 NLDS.
The Dodgers will hope for a familiar ending but a better beginning. In game five of the 2016 NLDS, Rich Hill started and pitched just 2 2/3 innings. After using three different relievers, the Dodgers put the game into the hands of Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw. Jansen pitched 2 1/3 innings throwing 51 pitches so the Dodgers turned to Clayton Kershaw for the last two outs and the save.
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Kershaw delivered two outs on just seven pitches to finish off the Nationals and send the Dodgers to the 2016 NLCS where they eventually lost to the Chicago Cubs. Tonight the Dodgers could once again turn to Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw to finish off the Nationals when Walker Buehler comes out of the game. It will come under much different circumstances, however.
To start, Clayton Kershaw is expected to come out of the bullpen this time. In 2016 the Nationals were not expecting Clayton to come out of the bullpen and Dave Roberts before the game said there was no way that he would pitch. This time it would be a surprise if Kershaw did not pitch, especially after Rich Hill made the Dodgers dip into their bullpen for five different relievers.
The other difference in 2019 is that Kenley Jansen will not pitch for more than one inning. His velocity is now down (except for a few pitches every outing) and the Dodgers now know their limitations with Kenley. Jansen has pitched just one inning this series and it was a perfect inning, one of the few he has thrown lately.
In a perfect world, Buehler will throw seven strong innings and turn a Dodger lead over to Kershaw and Jansen. Each would throw a shutout inning and the Dodgers would bathe in booze as they prepare for another National League Championship Series. These Dodgers have been in this situation before and they are hoping for a similar ending to the NLDS.