By facing the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, it marks a fifth consecutive year the Los Angeles Dodgers are playing in a winner-take-all game in the postseason.
With perhaps the best two starting pitching staffs in the league squaring off, the series certainly has not disappointed as neither team has won consecutive games through the first four.
The Dodgers won a franchise-record 106 games in the regular season, so they earned the right to have home-field advantage throughout the NL portion of the playoffs.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts feels that will favor his club when they take the field on Wednesday. “Absolutely. I think that, I know it’s going to be sold out, I expect the crowd, the blue towels waving, rally towels from the first pitch,” he said.
“And we certainly feed off that emotion and that energy, we play great at home. Obviously we can’t wait, there’s familiarity with the ballpark, our routine, obviously Walker loves being at home. Our guys hit well at home. So, yeah, I expect it to be electric.”
Both teams are sending aces to the mound as Walker Buehler is dueling with Stephen Strasburg. The Dodgers are hoping to win their first World Series since 1988, while the Nationals are looking to win their first postseason series period.
“Well, I think that if you look at both teams, no team wants to win this game more, regardless of history,” Roberts said. “So we both have had really good years and put ourselves in this situation, so I honestly don’t think that given our past we feel any more pressure than they do to win a Game 5.
“It’s a must-win for both teams. And I do feel being at home with Walker on the mound gives us the best chance to win tomorrow and I’m very confident that we’re going to come out of this and move on.”
The Dodgers were considered favorites going into the NLDS, although it is hard to consider the Nationals true underdogs when they boast a starting rotation with Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin.
Because of that, Roberts isn’t surprised that the series requires a decisive fifth game. “No. I mean, you don’t know what to expect until you play a series,” he said.
“But going into this series we knew with the Nationals, their starting pitching, their three guys are as good as anybody in all of baseball, their front three. So we knew we were going to have our hands full.”