Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel):
I’m not the guy who abuses Don Mattingly regularly or blames him for everything that goes wrong, but in Game 5 of the NLDS, you can bet there is more pressure on Mattingly than ever not to screw this up.
For me, that begins with the lineup, where there’s no excuse for starting Jimmy Rollins or Carl Crawford. Rollins can’t hit, and Crawford can’t hit or field — so with players like Corey Seager, Kiké Hernandez, Yasiel Puig or even Joc Pederson on the bench, I’m hopeful Mattingly has learned from his Game 3 blunder.
To be fair, I think Mattingly crushed it in Game 4, and if he has a repeat performance in Game 5, I think the Dodgers hold the advantage with this season’s best pitcher, home-field advantage and a pinch of momentum.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):
The biggest X-factor going into Game 5 is the Dodgers’ ability to hit with runners in scoring position. Runs are going to be at a premium with two great pitchers on the mound. The reason the Dodgers lost Game 1 is because they couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position off deGrom.
They had runners on base every inning, but deGrom was able to get out of jam after jam, slowly sucking the life out of the Dodgers. Both Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner have driven in key runs in the series, and I think this game will come down to one key hit (or lack their of) from one of those two guys.
The reason I didn’t put the bullpen as the key factor is because of Greinke. Just like Kershaw did in Game 4, I believe Greinke will throw at least seven quality innings, something he’s done in 22 of his 33 starts this season.
So, I think between Chris Hatcher, Luis Avilan and Kenley Jansen, the bullpen can get through the eighth and the ninth without allowing the Mets to score, putting the pressure on the offense to put a few runs on the board and give the bullpen a chance to close out the series.
Matt Borelli (@DodgersIn2015):
I think the biggest factor for Game 5 is the ability to work the count against deGrom. During the regular season, he was almost untouchable when ahead of the count (.330 Opponent OPS on 0-2 counts; .265 on 1-2 counts; .344 on 2-2 counts).
On the flip side, when he falls behind the count, the numbers strongly favor the batter (.987 Opponent OPS on 1-0 counts; .900 on 2-0 counts; 1.000 on 3-0 counts; 1.562 on 3-1 counts). In Game 1, deGrom’s pitch count was at 80 after four innings, an average of 20 pitches per inning.
It was looking likely that the Dodgers would chase him out of the game after six, but he still managed to complete seven innings because of his high strikeout total and lack of baserunners allowed (he retired the final 11 batters faced).
Basically, the Dodgers must continue working deGrom’s pitch count as well as they did on Friday, but this time, getting more runners on base while striking out less. Easier said than done, right?