Our first Game 5 of the 2016 Divisional Series. Both teams have played each other neck and neck. We will have Rich Hill vs Max Scherzer today. Both pitchers have never played in a Game 5 of an ALDS in their careers. Max Scherzer told ESPN, “This is the biggest start of my life.” The Nationals have averaged 5.25 runs this series, while the Dodgers have averaged 3.75 runs. One issue that has plagued the postseason is how the aces have been performing for their respective teams. In Max’s last start, he gave up 4 runs with 2 homers playing 6 innings. Rich Hill gave up 4 runs with 1 homer playing only 4.1 innings. We know both pitchers are better than their previous start. I expect them to have better outings for this do or die game.
Pitching at home has been a plus for Max Scherzer this year. His ERA at home is 2.56, while on the road it’s 3.28. The one struggle he’s had this season is facing lefties. He has given up an average of .247 to lefties and .140 to righties. The Dodgers have 7 lefties in their lineup. Scherzer and Jose Lobaton will need to create a plan to get lefties out. Scherzer uses the fastball, slider and changeup. The Dodgers should just use the same approach they used in Game 1 because it worked.
Rich Hill was a little unlucky in his last outing. The Nationals catcher, Jose Lobaton homered against him. Lobaton has a slugging percentage of .267 and 1 homer against lefties this year. Let’s just say it’s highly unlikely that happens again. Rich Hill has no significant splits that stand out. He’s been terrific for the Dodgers this season. Obviously, if Clayton Kershaw didn’t pitch the other day, he would be pitching today.
This game will be very tight. It’s tough to tell who will win. Both teams can score and pitch. It’s in these types of games where you get to know who the big game players are. I like the Nationals because of the home field advantage. Home field advantage is very important in baseball. I like Scherzer to get it together and lead his team to a win.
Prediction: Nationals win 5-4 to go to the NLCS