The first postseason meeting in history between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants has boiled down to a winner-take-all Game 5 of the National League Division Series.
Both teams have won 109 games to get to this point, so it’s no surprise it will take all five games to determine who will face the Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship Series, which Dodgers manager Dave Roberts believes was inevitable.
The Dodgers were able to extend the series after picking up a win in Game 4 and now look to take the series from their rivals up North.
With their season on the line, the Dodgers were expected to give the ball to Julio Urias, who led MLB with 20 wins while becoming one of the underrated aces of baseball.
However, the team has since announced Corey Knebel is the starter for Game 5. Additional details were not provided, but it’s presumed Knebel will serve as an opener.
Meanwhile, Urias showed the Dodgers can rely on him when they need him most during the 2020 postseason run and he continued to prove it in Game 2 to tie the NLDS in what felt like a must-win game for L.A.
“I think early on in ’16, in the postseason, we saw glimpses of the big moment and seeing the pulse,” Roberts said. “Obviously the height of it was last year with what he did in the NLCS and World Series. This year, I think he just continued to build on that experience, that confidence, and it kind of propelled him to be an outstanding performer all year.”
Urias only threw 72 pitches in Game 2 but he was very effective, logging five innings while only allowing one run in the 9-2 victory.
The Dodgers are playing Game 5 with all hands on deck, including a possible relief appearance from Max Scherzer. However, the team tends to do well when Urias does, so it will be important for him to get off to a good start — and they are confident he will.
“Just seems like Julio has this weird but like old soul about him,” Mookie Betts said. “He just gets on the mound like he’s been there, he’s done it and he’s got so much confidence in himself that it just kind of oozes out on everyone else. He may not say a whole lot, but you can just kind of see it. I’m sure he’ll have that confidence oozing out and we just got to win one game.”
This season, Urias threw a career-high 185.2 innings and posted a 2.96 ERA and 3.13 FIP while striking out 26.2% of hitters and walking 5.1%.
The Giants put their season into the hands of Logan Webb, who became a breakout star this year and dominated the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS by throwing 7.2 scoreless innings in a 4-0 win.
Webb pitched to a 3.03 ERA and 2.72 FIP in 148.1 innings while striking out 26.5% of hitters and walking 6% this season.
L.A. and San Francisco had the two top offenses during the regular season, with San Francisco just taking a slight edge over L.A.
The Giants hit .249/.329/.440 with 241 home runs and a 108 wRC+, while the Dodgers batted .244/.330/.429 with 237 home runs and a 106 wRC+.
Perhaps the most important part of Game 5 will come down to the Dodgers’ bats as they have won every game where they’ve scored this October while both their losses were shutouts.
The Dodgers hope to get a spark from Gavin Lux, who did not play in Game 1 but will start Game 5 and has been hitting at a superstar level since being recalled on Sept. 10.
“I mean, they’re good at making adjustments too,” Lux said of facing Webb for a second time this series.
“So go back to the drawing board and see what we got, like Will said, as a collective unit and see how we can come up for a game plan to beat [Webb]. He’s good, but we like Julio as well. Julio’s a big-game pitcher so we like that guy too.”
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