Dodgers @ Nationals October 13, 2016: NLDS Game 5

Dodgers
Nationals
5:00 PM PT, FS1
D.C.
2B
Utley
CF 
Turner
SS
Seager
RF
Harper
3B
Turner
LF 
 Werth
1B
González
2B
 Murphy
RF
Reddick
3B 
 Rendon
CF
Pederson
1B
 Zimmerman
C
Grandal SS  Espinosa
LF
Toles
C
Lobatón
P
Hill (L)
P
Scherzer (R)

It’s been four years in a row that the Dodgers have chosen to pitch Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 4 of their NLDS. That decision carried extra weight this year, thanks to the rain postponement of Game 2. Mainly, it left the Dodgers with two less-than-ideal options to start the Game 5 that they hoped to reach: Rich Hill on short rest, or rookie Julio Urías.

Well, they’ve reached Game 5, and it’s Hill who’s gotten the call.

Hill’s Game 2 start against the Nationals on Sunday began very well, as he struck out seven batters in three scoreless innings. Things fell apart for him in a bit of a hurry, though. Hill gave up a two-out, three-run home run to Jose Lobatón (who bats eighth today) in the bottom of the fourth, and was chased with one out in the bottom of the fifth after three singles brought in another Nationals run.

Hill has not pitched on three days’ rest once this season, and here’s what Dave Roberts had to say about what the Dodgers are hoping for from him tonight.

The odds are pretty good that the bullpen will play a big role in tonight’s game, as they have throughout the rest of the series. We should expect to see Urías used in this game, and possibly even very early. (Web“absolutely” won’t be seeing Kershaw, though.)

Urías has faced the Nationals twice this season, once at Dodger Stadium and once at Nationals Park. The young lefty fared decently well in both games. In his start at home on June 22, Urias threw 94 pitches over five strong innings, giving up two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out six. In his start in D.C. on July 21, Urías pitched four innings, allowing one run on five hits while striking out four. He was lifted after 77 pitches.

While Hill is going on short rest, Max Scherzer is going on an extra day of rest, as it’s been five days since his Game 1 start. Throughout his career, Scherzer has been at his best on five days’ rest. However, that hasn’t been the case in 2016. Scherzer has a 2.94 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP in the 21 starts he made on four days’ rest this season, and in the nine starts he made on five days’ rest, he has a 3.30 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. So he’s still been good, just not as good.

Scherzer will face the exact same lineup he saw in Game 1 of the series. The four earned runs (and two home runs) that Scherzer allowed in that game don’t look great, but he did settle in after the third-inning dinger he gave up to Justin Turner, retiring 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.

It may be worth noting that much of the contact made off of Scherzer in Game 1 was pretty solid — four of the last nine balls put in play were hit at velocities exceeding 100 mph, so the Dodgers weren’t shut down entirely. It may or may not also be worth noting that Scherzer hasn’t been all that successful pitching in elimination games in the past (no, but actually, take that with a massive grain of salt). It’s definitely worth noting that Scherzer, a likely Cy Young candidate, remains a formidable opponent, no matter what.

All the other Division Series have been decided, so the eyes of the baseball world are solely on this game tonight. It has the promise of being a good one. There’s nothing quite like a game that’s do-or-die for both teams.

Hang in there, pals.

ThrowsRelieverSat 10/15Sun 10/16Mon 10/17Tue 10/18Wed 10/19Thur 10/20Fri 10/21
LAvilan--OFF-2421OFF
RBaez34-OFF-2727OFF
RBlanton28-OFF13-19OFF
LDayton3-OFF16-12OFF
RFields--OFF-910OFF
RJansen-18OFF21--OFF
RStripling10-OFF-2018OFF
LWood--OFF-32-OFF

About Sarah Wexler

Sarah Wexler
Sarah Wexler is a native Angeleno and longtime Dodger fan. She began blogging about baseball in 2012 on her Tumblr, New Grass On The Field, where she covered an array of topics but especially enjoyed exploring baseball history. She is now a reporter/producer for MLB.com. She earned her master's degree in Sports Management from Cal State Long Beach. She graduated from New York University in 2014 with a bachelor's in History and a minor in American Studies. She's an avid Springsteen fan, which is a big boost to her baseball writer cred.