Braves @ Dodgers NLCS Game 5: Fried vs. Kelly with LA’s season on the line

Dodger Stadium
Photo by: Cody Bashore

Facing elimination from the 2021 postseason, the Dodgers are sending Joe Kelly to the mound against the Braves’ ace Max Fried. If you thought Game 3 was an improbable win, you haven’t seen anything yet. The odds are stacked heavily against the Dodgers forcing a Game 6.

But this is it. There’s zero room for error. Sure, the Dodgers were in this position last year — down 3-1 to the Braves in the NLCS — but this year is different.

Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Enrique Hernandez, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson aren’t walking through that door. And after last night, Justin Turner isn’t walking through that door, either. No, instead it’s Andy Burns and friends attempting to stave off elimination to at least give the Dodgers a shot in Atlanta with dead arm Max Scherzer and forgot-how-to-dominate-in-October Walker Buehler lined up for potential Game 6 and 7. They’re +625 on Bovada to win the World Series. If you truly believe this team isn’t dead/almost dead (Dave Roberts‘ own words following Game 3), then there’s some money to be made.

——

The Dodgers have had a couple bad breaks in this series, but nothing like they experienced in the NLDS. The Braves are just playing better baseball than them right now, and yet, it could be a 3-1 series lead for LA — and, more likely, 2-2 — but it isn’t. Still, they have no one to blame but themselves, and the blame is widespread. Roberts made the infuriatingly questionable pitching decision in Game 2 with Julio Urias. The starting pitching hasn’t been up to par for a number of reasons that will be debated for some time. The offense has completely shit the bed (6-for-27, 30 LOB in the series) outside of a 4-run bottom of the eighth in Game 3. It’s a story we’ve seen time and time again for the Dodgers in October.

If you sub in Scherzer and the lifeless/lost Trea Turner for Mookie Betts in the last tweet, it’s almost eerie how apropos those tweets are from just slightly more than a year ago.

It doesn’t hurt as much this year because they went onto win last year, but it certainly doesn’t feel good. And honestly, this is setting up to be a sad night, should the Dodgers lose.

If they do, we may have seen the final game for Kenley Jansen, Corey Seager, Taylor and yes, even Kershaw — as Dodgers in Dodger Stadium. You can also throw in Kelly and Scherzer, but they haven’t been staples during this half-decade-plus flirtation between the Dodgers and a World Series victory. I think they’ll bring back — at minimum — Kershaw, but it isn’t time for rosterbation just yet (and the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations could put a big damper on those rosterbatory plans).

This is just something to keep in mind as you’re watching events unfold tonight. It’s been a wild ride and it’s going to suck to see some of these guys in different uniforms next season. I mean, the Dodgers could keep them all, but they won’t.

Lineups

.

The Braves changed things up a bit and have gotten Jorge Soler back from the COVID-19 injured list. The Dodgers turn to their best “vs. LHP” lineup they can run out there right now, with Chris Taylor getting the call at third base and Tio Tio Albert getting what could be not only his last start as a Dodger, but the last start of his career.

——

It’d be nice to see them complete another unlikely comeback from a 3-1 deficit. But this team looks absolutely gassed.

They’d probably never admit it (and I’m not going to admit I had to look up “Pyrrhic” when Matthew tweeted it to me), but this seems to be the case. It’s not the greatest attitude to have, but as a Northern California resident for all but two years of my life, I am glad they beat the Giants first and foremost, because I would never have heard the end of it up here.

Anyway, win to extend the season or we can start the offseason earlier than expected.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.