Preview: Dodgers, Nationals Meet in Decisive Game 5

(Tony Avelar/Washington Post)

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.


22 thoughts on “Preview: Dodgers, Nationals Meet in Decisive Game 5

  1. We need to make it a bullpen game late which favors us. Love to see Kenley close it out for us. He looked great the other night! We need our stars to be stars tonight!

  2. 2:00 and no lineup yet.

    The possible outcomes within the game feel limitless, but there will be about 80-90 plate appearances with 3-8 pitches each. The only one that matters is the next one. Cliche maybe, but important to remember.

  3. I truly hope the Nats don’t start the game the same way the Cards have against the Braves.
    Two out in the first and the Cards lead 9-0 (yes, you read that correctly).

    1. Don’t like Muncy at second but at least Pollock isn’t in the game. Hernandez in left instead of Lux at second. It might work

  4. Corey looks like someone spiked his Gatorade with Ambien.

    We’re chasing less. It’s paying off. Only Seager and Bellinger are still swinging out of the zone.

  5. What more could you have asked of Walker Buehler than 6 2/3 IP of one run ball. Win, lose or draw he was magnificent.

  6. I thought they would hit for Pederson. He’s like an automatic out against lefthanders. Especially the good ones.

    1 for 7 WRISP. And again waving at pitches nowhere near the strike zone.

    Rendon does what he does. Soto follows. Kershaw has already lost one this series. Why is he in there?

  7. Game was lost the minute he went to Kershaw. Kelly puts the nail in the coffin. Thanks for an exciting year, but this is not the way it should have ended.

  8. Losing on your home field sucks. Joe Kelly sucks…..Dave Roberts is still the worst in game manager in recent memory. Kershaw should have never even warmed up. He should have left Maeda in there.

    1. I agree. Kershaw was a mistake. Maeda should have come in then.

      Kelly got one clean inning. Be grateful for that and go to someone else. I think Roberts made some bad moves but come on… Seager was invisible, Bellinger sucked, Pollock stunk the joint up, Smith blew chunks… the all or nothing offense just wasn’t good enough.

      Now the analysis can be made. Pollock and Kelly were mistakes. Bellinger and Seager failed in the spotlight. Just the fact Roberts felt forced to use Kershaw is an obvious tell about our bullpen. We needed to make a strong move at deadline and we choked on it.

      The Nationals did what they needed to do and for the second time in 3 years we lose the last game of a postseason series on our home field. This just f’n sucks.

  9. As a loyal Dodgers and Saints fan these past few years I’m now convinced that postseason play is a cruel joke that the man upstairs is playing on me. I’m also convinced that Joe Kelly is an inside plant sent to destroy the Dodgers. He beat them for a World Series as a Red Sox and now he destroys us from the inside as a Dodger. I’m going to take up water polo as my new favorite sport. Maybe shuffleboard I’m not sure, I’ll have to think about it. Don’t be at all shocked if Dave Roberts loses his job over this. I can’t really defend him either. Joe Maddon, anyone?

  10. Kudos to the Nationals. They came to play, they never quit and their pitching totally shut the Dodger offense down after the 2nd inning. 12 more strikeouts from these guys. No homers and no RBI’s from their MVP candidate, Pollock K’s 12 times in the series, Seager does a total disappearing act with the bat. The bullpen, except Maeda was shaky and Dodger fans are left with a totally empty feeling in their stomachs. Kershaw has pretty well used up a lot of the good will he built with Dodger fans with his pitiful performance in this series. Buehler is officially the ACE of the staff, What is in store for Rich Hill and Ryu? Only time will tell. But mark my words, the fans are going to be especially pissed off after this failure. Roberts is going to be criticized on every single blog known to man, and AF is going to be roasted like a Thanksgiving turkey for his construction of the team. Kershaw should have been pulled immediately after getting Eaton. So now we get to watch 2 teams play for the pennant and wait for the winter meetings to see if they make any kind of move.

  11. Why should we care as fans when ownership and management clearly don’t? They would rather save a penny than sign impact players now. It’s just a business for these guys plain and simple. There will be more staying under the tax line instead of giving Gerrit Cole a blank check to pair with Buehler since Kershaw is now washed up and HE IS WASHED UP!! Instead of finding a real elite closer to replace Kenley they will find another Josh Fields or Tony Cingrani. I’m just over it. This is the Dodgers not the Marlins.

  12. I honestly would rather Clayton retire now and still have at least a little good memory of him than see the inevitable sharp decline that is about to happen. I never thought I would say it but we are better off without him. I hope he thinks hard this winter and walks off into the sunset with dignity.

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