From a Dodgers perspective, not many people envisioned the 2019 NLDS lasting the full five games. Fans were certainly hoping Los Angeles would wrap up the series in Washington with a bit of leeway, rather than force a Game 5 where absolutely anything can happen.
Yet, here we are. In the confines of Chavez Ravine, the team with the best home and overall record in the National League is set to face the club with the best road record.
Manager Dave Roberts spoke to the press for a short time on Tuesday, giving reporters a few hints on how his batting order might look in Game 5. The skipper said that rookie Will Smith will get the nod behind the plate, but he also stated he hasn’t yet made up his mind about the possibility of including A.J. Pollock, Gavin Lux or Matt Beaty in the starting nine.
Seemingly, there are lots of good things happening for both sides. Washington feels great that they are running righty Stephen Strasburg to the mound. Likewise, the Dodgers are confident in a young right-hander of their own in Walker Buehler.
“I do feel being at home with Walker on the mound gives us the best chance to win tomorrow,” Roberts said. “I’m very confident that we’re going to come out of this and move on.”
While Los Angeles has hit much better against righty pitchers—11 points higher in average and 31 points in slugging—all numbers are off the table in the NLDS finale. Strasburg has already started one elimination game in his career, recording the win in a seven-inning, 12 strikeout effort in Game 4 of the 2017 NLDS against the Cubs. Despite that effort, the Nats went on to lose the series in Game 5.
Buehler has made five postseason starts in his career but has never thrown in an elimination game.
It will be all hands on deck for both sides, as in-game strategies could play huge factors in the final outcome. We’ll probably see both bullpens filled with members from their respective starting rotations.
Roberts indicated that there’s a chance that Clayton Kershaw could follow Buehler at some point in the game.
“Piggybacking with Walker at some point is the thought,” Roberts confirmed to the media on Wednesday.
Over the last few days, we twisted the regular season stats and splits, as well as some of the postseason numbers, in all kinds of directions. However, in a one-game, winner-take-all contest, the possible outcomes are limitless.
Fans of the Dodgers know how well Buehler can handle pressure with his calm demeanor, but it will definitely be interesting to see how the rest of the team approaches the game, especially at the plate on offense.
For what it’s worth, most of the outlets in Las Vegas have the Dodgers reasonably favored. The over/under is set at seven runs.
First pitch is slated for 5:37 PM Los Angeles time.