Dodgers @ Braves NLCS Game 5: May vs. Minter with the season on the line

Photo by: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers (1-3) face elimination tonight in Texas. The Braves (3-1) are admittedly a great team. They trounced the Dodgers in three of the first four games of this series as they go for their first World Series berth since 1999. The Dodgers, probably more than any other team, can win three straight games against any other team. We all know they’re deeply talented, but it’s time for that talent to step up when it matters.

6:08 P.M. Arlington
RF Betts RF Acuña Jr.
SS Seager (L) 1B Freeman (L)
3B Turner DH Ozuna
1B Muncy (L) C d’Arnaud
C Smith 2B Albies (S)
CF Bellinger (L) SS Swanson
LH Pollock 3B Riley
DH Pederson (L) LF Markakis (L)
2B Taylor CF Pache
P May (R) P Minter (L)

Dustin May gets the start in this win-or-go-home game for the Dodgers. The 23-year old has a big job tonight. He’s asked to tackle the Braves’ offense that scored 10 runs in Game 4. May’s pitched well in his three postseason appearances so far, tallying 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 1 of this series.

The gloriously ginger-haired hurler went 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA, 4.62 FIP and 1.089 WHIP in 12 games (10 starts) for the Dodgers over 56 innings pitched this year over the 60-game season. May’s power sinker hopefully will neutralize Atlanta’s aggressive offense.

May’s only faced the Braves once, in 2019, when he gave up four runs in two relief innings. It would be nice for my blood pressure if May handles the Braves’ lineup to start the game, but it’s not all on his young shoulders.

A.J. Minter will make his first professional start for Atlanta. He’s made 139 relief appearances, but he hasn’t made a start since he went to college at Texas A&M in 2015. Perfect game confirmed.

The left-hander opens the game to face Betts who’s had trouble hitting left-handed pitching in 2020. Betts hit .200 with a .531 OPS vs. left-handed pitching during the season. He’s 2-for-12 with two doubles against LHP this postseason so far. Corey Seager hit a home run off Minter in the 7th inning of Game 2. Seager’s OPSing 1.287 this series with six hits including two doubles and two homers.

‌I feel like the Dodgers should keep Edwin Ríos in the lineup. He missed the NLDS with a groin strain, but he’s come back to homer in two straight games. He’s not in Dave Roberts‘ starting lineup, but he’ll certainly should go to him off the bench.

Joc Pederson will DH despite facing Minter to start the game. Dave’s playing Pederson’s hot postseason bat, and I can’t hate on that. Pederson has five hits in the series including a home run in Game 3 and no strikeouts. Overall, in his career with the Dodgers, Joc has eight postseason homers (two game-tying home runs and two go-ahead home runs).

Betts needs to lead this team’s offense. He’s 2-for-14 in the series. Speaking of leaders, Freddie Freeman is 6-for-14 with two homers and a double in the NLCS. Freeman has hit .438 (7-for-16) and Travis d’Arnaud has hit .538 (7-for-13) against pitches clocked at 97 mph or higher, per Statcast. They’re going to have to keep Freeman at bay, but that won’t be an easy task.

Nick Markakis returns to Brian Snitker‘s lineup with Austin Riley back at third base. Huascar Ynoa and Grant Dayton probably won’t be available out of Atlanta’s bullpen. Both threw at least 60 pitches in Game 3.

If we survive tonight:

What are the keys to the game? First, the Dodgers’ bats need to figure out these rookie pitchers the Braves have been throwing at them. Score runs. Secondly, the bullpen will also have to, you know, not blow it. Roberts needs to make the correct bullpen moves. The defense needs to be solid, and the base running can’t blunder.

Play better baseball than the Braves tonight, guys.

First pitch is at 6:08 PM PST on FS1.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.