Series tied 2-2
Max Scherzer has problems keeping the ball inside the ballpark and the Washington Nationals are hoping that won’t be an issue in Thursday’s decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. Scherzer served up a career-worst 31 homers in the regular season and was taken deep by Corey Seager and Justin Turner in Los Angeles’ 4-3 victory in Game 1.
Scherzer is aware the Nationals have never won a playoff series since relocating from Montreal and he didn’t sidestep away from the importance. “This will probably be the biggest start of my career,” Scherzer told reporters. “I’ve said that a few times in my life, but I think this will be it. You’re going to get the absolute best out of everybody on both teams.” The Dodgers are looking to reach the NL Championship Series for the second time in four seasons and are expected to turn to veteran left-hander Rich Hill. Los Angeles first baseman Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run shot in Tuesday’s 6-5 victory – his only homer and RBIs in the series.
TV: 8:08 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
WEATHER REPORT: Conditions at Nationals Park will be clear and cool (game-time temperatures in the low 60’s). There is a 10 percent chance of a shower rolling through early in the evening and the humidity level will be at 80 percent.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “The Dodgers used their ace, Clayton Kershaw, on just three days rest in Game 4. Now Los Angeles will have to use Rich Hill on three days rest in Game 5. Meanwhile, the Nationals saved their ace Max Scherzer for Game 5 which means he is pitching on five days of rest. While Scherzer will be fresh, the Dodgers have been a much stronger offensive team versus right-handed pitchers this season, averaging 5.0 runs per nine innings with a .261 batting average, compared to just 3.5 runs and .210 versus LHP.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.
HOT FAN BATTLE:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Rich Hill (12-5, 2.12 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Max Scherzer (20-7, 2.96)
Hill is expected to start the contest but manager Dave Roberts asserted that 20-year-old rookie Julio Urias is also part of the Game 5 pitching plan. “I think that we talked about Rich as an option, obviously, but so is Julio and how we want to strategize to win Game 5,” Roberts said at a press conference. “We’re going to talk through it but it’s nice now that we didn’t have to go to Julio (in Game 4), so he’s certainly an option.” Hill lasted just 4 1/3 innings while losing Game 2, and he gave up four runs and six hits while striking out seven.
Scherzer allowed four runs and five hits in six innings while losing against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 1. The NL Cy Young award candidate expects another raucous atmosphere with the NLCS berth awaiting the winner. “If it’s anything like Game 1, it’s going to be such a thrill,” Scherzer said. “Game 1 was unbelievable there in D.C. The fans were just going nuts from the first pitch. So the fact that it’s going to be Game 5, I mean, our fans really brought it in Game 1, so I can only imagine the atmosphere going into Game 5.”
* Dodgers are 2-8 in their last 10 playoff road games.
* Dodgers are 0-4 in Hill’s last 4 starts.
* Nationals are 6-0 in their last 6 games following a loss.
* Nationals are 5-0 in Scherzer’s last 5 starts following a team loss in their previous game.
* Under is 5-1-1 in Hill’s last 7 starts overall.
* Over is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings.
* Over is 8-2 in Kellogg’s last 10 games behind home plate.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is leaning heavily toward Max Scherzer and the home favorite Washington Nationals at 70 percent. In totals action, Over 7 is seeing 70 percent of the wagers.