The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets have reached the finish line, with one team set to advance to the National League Championship Series by Thursday night, and the other’s season coming to an end.
With Zack Greinke and Jacob deGrom on the mound for the winner-take-all Game 5, our staff weighed in with their biggest key to a Dodgers’ win:
Eric Avakian (@AvakEric):
In an expected pitchers’ duel, the X-factor for the Dodgers has to be clutch hitting with runners in scoring position. Seeing as how runs are going to be tough to come by, the key moment in the game could be decided within the first few innings.
If the Dodgers are able to string hits together to put a runner in scoring position, they must be able to capitalize on any mistakes by Jacob deGrom. The Dodgers were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position against him in Game 1, something that needs to improve.
The ability to get Greinke early run support can impact his approach for the remainder of the game. Being the methodical pitcher that he is, Greinke understands what he can and can’t do, and his repertoire of pitches can seem more effective with a lead, especially his breaking balls that fade out of the strike zone.
If the Dodgers can hit with runners on early in the game, it can set the stage up for Greinke to succeed against the aggressive Mets’ hitters. With all of Chavez Ravine cheering the Dodgers on, Game 5 is a pivotal moment not only for the players, but the front office and management that worked hard to reconfigure a winning baseball team.
Stacie Wheeler (@OrganicallyRude):
In order for the Dodgers to knock out the Mets and win the NLDS, they will need to be aggressive offensively this time against the formidable deGrom. The Cy Young-worthy right-hander pitched seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS while striking out 13 batters, which matched Tom Seaver’s franchise record in a postseason game.
The Dodgers hit the most home runs in the National League (187) during the regular season, and the long ball has played a big factor in the postseason so far. However, the Dodgers have hit only two home runs in the series thus far, while the Mets have hit six.
Adrian Gonzalez has hit two home runs off deGrom in the past, and Yasiel Puig has hit one as well off the long-haired ace. The Dodgers will need to capitalize with runners on and find balance between patience and ferocity at the plate.
Bringing back some of that powerful offense we saw during the regular season in order to score against deGrom is the most important adjustment the Dodgers need to make in the series finale.