Dodgers @ Cubs October 19, 2017: NLCS Game 5

Photo: Sarah Wexler

The Dodgers didn’t manage to finish the job against the Cubs last night. With the NLCS now three games to one, Los Angeles still clearly holds the advantage in the series, though. And they’ll take their second shot at clinching a World Series berth tonight, this time behind their ace.

Dodgers
Cubs
5:08 PM TBS
Chicago
SS
Taylor
CF
Almora
3B
Turner
LF
Schwarber
1B
Bellinger
3B
Bryant
RF
Puig
1B
Rizzo
2B
Forsythe
C
Contreras
LF
Hernández
SS
Russell
C
Barnes 2B Báez
SS
Culberson
RF
Zobrist
P
Kershaw (L)
P
Quintana (L)

This wouldn’t be the first time that Clayton Kershaw (2.31 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 3.30 DRA) has started a game deemed the most important of his career, but … this may very well be the most important game of Clayton Kershaw‘s career. A poor performance wouldn’t doom the Dodgers (like in past elimination scenarios), but a strong performance to take his team to that long-elusive World Series would be incredibly vindicating. Chad wrote earlier today about Kershaw needing to rise to this occasion, and I think we can all agree that this is a really big moment for the vaunted southpaw.

As a reminder, Kershaw pitched five innings of two-run ball in Game 1 of the NLCS, allowing four hits (one of which was a two-run home run by Albert Almora) and a walk while striking out four. His teammates backed him up by evening the score against Cubs starter José Quintana (4.15 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 3.86 DRA), and then doing further damage against the Chicago bullpen.

That said, Quintana was on short rest in Game 1. He’ll be on full rest this time, so things may go a bit differently. However, after a 48-pitch effort last night, Cubs closer Wade Davis is not available — so if the Dodgers can get to the bullpen fairly early on, they’ll be in good shape.

The righty-heavy Dodger lineup is very similar to the one that faced Quintana in Game 1, save for a bit of shuffling. Austin Barnes is back at catcher, and Logan Forsythe is back at second base, with Enrique Hernández manning left field.

The Cubs are going with pretty much the same lineup they had last night, except with Ben Zobrist in right field in place of Jon Jay.

Although the wind appeared to have played a role in the offense over the course of the past two games, it looks like tonight may be a bit different.

We’ll see if that’s the case come game time, though.

——

The Dodgers’ position heading into this game is definitely the preferable one. But it’s okay to be anxious. It’s October baseball — if you’re not anxious, you’re probably dead, or at least comatose.

In any event, here’s something to lighten the mood a bit:

https://twitter.com/YasielPuig/status/921127007785648129

Tongues out. Let’s do this.

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 now writes for The Hardball Times, FanGraphs and Sporting News, and co-hosts a podcast, The Hardball Times Audio. She recently 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.