NLCS Game 5 Preview: Joe Kelly Starts As Dodgers Leaning On Bullpen In Hopes Of Avoiding Elimination
Joe Kelly, 2021 NLCS
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves down 3-1 to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series for the second consecutive year.

Last year, the Dodgers were able to complete the historic comeback and now look to do it again despite mounting odds.

“No one needs to really tell anyone that we can do it. We’ve done it. We’ve been here,” AJ Pollock said after Game 4. “Obviously we got to grind, but we win, we’re not in a bad spot. So it’s going to be a big day.

“We got to regroup. We got to get after it and anything can happen if we win [Thursday].”

The Dodgers also have one more hurdle in their path to repeat as Justin Turner was removed in the seventh inning on Wednesday with a Grade 2 hamstring strain that will end his season.

Turner has since been replaced on the active roster by Andy Burns.

With their season on the line, L.A. goes bullpen game, mostly out of necessity, however, they have been pretty effective so far. Joe Kelly has been tabbed to serve as the opener.

The Dodgers were able to avoid using their key relievers in the Game 4 loss, so it should be all-hands-on-deck for the do-or-die scenario. Expect Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol and Corey Knebel to all pitch an inning, and possibly more.

The Braves give the ball to Max Fried, who hopes to pitch them into the World Series.

Fried started Game 1 and tossed six innings while allowing two runs on eight hits with five strikeouts in Atlanta’s 3-2 win.

This season, he threw 165.2 innings while posting a 3.04 ERA and 3.31 FIP across 28 starts while striking out 23.7% of hitters and walking 6.1%.

The Dodgers will need to find a spark in their offense as it has continued to let them down throughout the playoffs.

Trea Turner, the NL batting champion, is 6-for-40 with no walks in the NL Division Series and NLCS. The Dodgers desperately need Turner to find his swing, and he recently said he has not been doing enough to help the offense.

Cody Bellinger is back in center field, with Albert Pujols starting at first base and Chris Taylor sliding in to play third base.

Although Jorge Soler cleared COVID protocols and was activated Thursday, he is not in the Braves’ lineup.

If L.A. is able to win, they would have some hope with Max Scherzer scheduled to start Game 6 and Walker Buehler starting a potential Game 7.

Dodgers lineup

RF: Mookie Betts
2B: Trea Turner
SS: Corey Seager
C: Will Smith
LF: AJ Pollock
1B: Albert Pujols
3B: Chris Taylor
CF: Cody Bellinger
P: Joe Kelly

Braves lineup

LF: Eddie Rosario
2B: Ozzie Albies
1B: Freddie Freeman
3B: Austin Riley
CF: Adam Duvall
RF: Joc Pederson
SS: Dansby Swanson
C: Travis d’Arnaud
P: Max Fried

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