The first game 5 of the 2016 postseason, and the only one we’ll have in the divisional series. The Chicago Cubs are waiting for the second duel of Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw to reveal the winner: Los Angeles Dodgers or Washington Nationals?
The Dodgers don’t care about rest or pitching count. They’re assuming Kershaw, who missed almost half the season with back problems, is going to be OK, and if not, they have other starters ready to help out in the bullpen. The Nationals are relying on a trio of hitters (Turner, Werth, Murphy) to keep on connecting, while hoping Max Scherzer doesn’t give up any home runs this time.
Previous game: Dodgers won 6-5, thanks to a Chase Utley single in the 8th. Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 in 6.2 innings, but probably stayed in for too long, which allowed the Nationals to come back. Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth continue to be the go to guys for the Nationals with 7 combined hits (including 4 RBIs for Murphy), while Joe Ross had a horrendous day on the mound, not lasting the complete third inning. Adrian Gonzalez hit a homerun for the Dodgers, with Joc Pederson picking up a couple of RBIs too.
Starting pitchers: The Dodgers are not letting Kershaw rest, and bringing him back for his third game in this series. In 11.2 innings, he’s given up 15 hits and 8 runs to post a 6.17 ERA, but it’s more about the timing of his mound exits (usually hangs in there too long) then choking in the postseason. He has done a good job, as usual, of striking out while avoiding walks, with a 6.00 k/bb ratio so far.
Max Scherzer, who faced Kershaw in game 1 and didn’t do so well, is back, with plenty of rest compared to Kershaw, who pitched in game 4. The 32-year old struck out 8 batters in game 1, but gave up two homers and four runs in six innings of work. He did give up only five hits, which suggests it’s not been the quality of his pitching, but the ones that did go bad went very bad. He didn’t walk a single batters in the first game, which the Dodgers won.
Hot bats: Through four games, the Nationals have four batters hitting .333 or better: Ryan Zimmerman (0-for-4 in the previous game), Trea Turner, Daniel Murphy and Jayson Werth. Werth is the only one with a home run, Murphy has six RBIs. If the Nationals are going to score, it’ll probably be one of the Turner-Murphy-Werth contingency that makes it happen.
The Dodgers have had just one reliable hitter in this series: Justin Turner, batting .455, including one home runs and 3 RBIs. He has gotten four walks as well (OBP .647) and despite the lukewarm pitching from the Nationals across the board, it’s been difficult for the Dodgers lineup to find someone who can join Turner in generating consistent offense.