Playoff Reset: Dodgers vs. Nationals NLDS Game 5

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The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Washington Nationals, NLDS Game 5
The Time: 8:30 PM EDT
The Place: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Rich Hill (Dodgers) vs. Max Scherzer (Nationals)

The Upshot:

The Clayton Kershaw-on-short-rest gambit ended up working in Game 4 and the Dodgers lived for a Game 5. Now we see how the second part of that gambit works. Because, yes, it was always a two-part thing: who pitches in Game 5 if you use Kershaw in Game 4? That “who” is Rich Hill, also on short rest. And unlike Kershaw, Hill doesn’t have much experience doing that and none of it recently. Between that and finger blister issues he’s had all year that cannot be helped much by less recovery time, it’s an open question how long he’ll last. One has to assume Dave Roberts will have the absolute quickest of hooks, and that if Hill falters, Julio Urias will be in this game in a heartbeat. While untested and not as good as Hill at his best, he’s certainly well-rested. It’s probably best to think of this as a co-start by Hill and Urias, actually.

For Washington, the choice is much simpler and the man chosen much better: ace Max Scherzer on full rest. He allowed four runs on five hits in six innings in the series opener — he was dinger-prone then as he has been all year — but he’s always capable of a dominating performance. Dusty Baker will certainly want to stick with him as long as he can but, if Scherzer is less-than-ace-like he still has lefties in the pen who have mostly neutralized Dodgers hitters in this series. The Dodgers may not be super scared of Scherzer, though, as he has been far less effective against lefties than righties and the Dodgers are lefty-heavy.

The Dodgers have fallen in the NLDS in each of the past two seasons. The Nats have never made it out of the Division Series. Someone has to win this thing, however. Whoever does will face a scary Cubs team.