Win or Go Home: This Is How The Dodgers Win Game 5

The Nationals have thrown it all there against the Dodgers. You have to give them credit for pushing the Dodgers on the brink of elimination using an unconventional strategy. They’ve managed to push this series to a decisive Game 5 by piggybacking off Scherzer, Strasburg, and Corbin as not only their starters but bringing them out in relief as well. Coming in, the Nationals had the worst bullpen ERA of any team in the history of baseball to qualify for the playoffs. The stage is now set between Game 1 winner Walker Buehler and Game 2 winner Stephen Strasburg. The Dodgers HAVE to win this game or their 106 win season was all for nothing, so this is what they have to do to punch their ticket to the NLCS.

First of all, if there’s one pitcher you want out there with the game on the line then it’s Walker Buehler. He has already made baseball history by being the first pitcher ever to strike out at least 7 batters in his first five postseason appearances. As good as Stephen Strasburg has been, nobody has outpitched Buehler in this series. In Game 1, he struck out 8 batters, walked 3, allowed just 1 hit, and most importantly surrendered 0 runs. We’ve seen what he can do in a Game 163 and World Series outing, so we have to feel good with him on the mound. His home ERA including the playoffs sits at a marvelous 2.69. Buehler in all likelihood will only go 6 or 7 innings. So where do the Dodgers turn after that? Based off their recent struggles you can’t pitch Joe Kelly or Pedro Baez in a close game. You have to look at which batters are due up but the Dodgers are going to need Clayton Kershaw to pitch an inning in relief and I have no doubt he can do it. He’s done it multiple times, including Game 5 of the 2016 NLDS vs this same team. Kenta Maeda and Adam Kolarek are your best weapons to get the other guys out, they have been untouchable all postseason. That means it’ll be up to Kenley Jansen to close the 9th and you have to believe in him.

Obviously the Dodgers have to score some runs if they want to win. The lineup construction against Strasburg in Game 2 was absolutely horrible. Tip your cap to Strasburg, because he was phenomenal in Game 2, and has been throughout his postseason career. He went 6 innings, struck out 10 Dodgers, and only allowed 1 run to go along with 3 hits. He did this all while just pitching on 2 days rest after coming out of the bullpen in the wild card win.

This is how the Dodgers hitters have done against Strasburg throughout their careers including Game 2.

Matt Beaty: 2-3                         1 double
Cody Bellinger: 2-17                 1 double
David Freese: 1-11
Enrique Hernandez: 2-9         2 home runs, 3 rbis
Gavin Lux: 0-2
Rusell Martin: 3-6
Max Muncy: 0-12
Joc Pederson: 2-14                    1 home run, 1 double
AJ Pollock: 7-17                         1 home run, 2 doubles, 1 triple
Corey Seager: 1-14                     1 home run, 2 rbis
Will Smith: 1-4
Chris Taylor: 1-16
Justin Turner: 4-16                  2 home runs, 6 rbis

Dave Roberts should realize that it’s time to trust the veterans. Despite some bad BVP against Strasburg, Freese has been one of the best Dodgers hitters this postseason by hitting .571. With that being said here is what the optimal Game 5 lineup should be:

  1. Joc Pederson – RF
  2. Muncy – 2B
  3. Turner – 3B
  4. Bellinger – CF
  5. Seager – SS
  6. Pollock – LF
  7. Freese – 1B
  8. Smith – C
  9. Buehler – P

First thing that probably jumps is AJ Pollock. Why would you start a guy 0-12 with 10 strikeouts. Well the answer is simple, we are not paying this proven veteran all that money to just sit on the bench. I’d rather lose with Pollock in the lineup than lose with him sitting on the bench. You want to talk about a guy who is due, it’s this man. There is a lot of previous success against Strasburg and I really do think his moment will come in this game. We are benching Martin because he’s hardly caught Buehler and in those 9 innings, they have a 9 ERA. Smith and Buehler have a lot of chemistry together and after Game 1, I’m not willing to mess that up. They had a 3.24 ERA during the regular season. After watching Matt Beaty swing on a 3-0 count, it shows me that he won’t work the count but he is the first guy I’m bringing off the bench. In all reality, 3 runs should be enough for the Dodgers to win, so if they are willing to work the counts and manufacture runs, then they will win this game. Seager, Turner, Muncy, Pederson and Bellinger have all proven that one wrong pitch can result in a home run. Hopefully these guys have watched a lot of film and won’t be chasing the curveballs and changeups out of the zone this game. The sooner they get to this bullpen the better. Corbin and Sanchez are candidates that I’m quite sure of who could make an appearance. Go Dodgers!

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