For the second time this season, the Dodgers will face a winner-take-all contest when they face the San Francisco Giants on Thursday in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.
While both teams would have liked to wrap up the series sooner, neither was all that surprising given a series between the two clubs with the best records in baseball this season—and the race for the NL West Division whose battle was decided by one game. Thi – is going into the deciding fifth game.
“I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I was hoping we’d win in three straight. But … the way the regular season played out, absolutely, I’m sure it was inevitable, yes.”
Icode Logan Webb, who would be the Giants’ Game 5 starter: “We knew this was going to come in Game 5.”
Ahead of Thursday’s performance, here are five comments from the series so far:
Big chunk of territory, big success
Aggression at the plate can take many forms.
Swinging too early in the count. Swinging on pitches too high outside the strike zone. Or swinging on personal offerings too soon.
The latter was something that Roberts emphasized throughout the series, saying that he wanted to see his club use “larger sections of the field” more often and swing to get the ball to the middle or opposite field. Wanted to wait for a gap of one second.
“It allows us to watch baseball a little longer,” Roberts said. “Make better swing decisions.”
The Dodgers’ seven-run, 12-hit blast in Game 4 supported that view.
Of the 30 balls the Dodgers played, 17 hit either center field or the other side. Eight of those were hits, including home runs by Mookie Bates and Will Smith. And the tone was quickly set, when Corey Seeger and Tree Turner fired a single and a double respectively in the first innings in opposite field to open the scoring.
“We talked after Game 1,” Roberts said. “I think when we’re at our best we use up a large part of the field.”
In the opening game of the series against Webb, the Dodgers struggled to do so. Leaving his five groundouts back to the pitcher, he only went to center or opposite field seven times and hit just once.
In the last three games, however, he has not only been more disciplined in his swing decisions, but also appears to be more deliberate in where he is trying to run the ball.
“I think it could have been a much more odd score tonight,” Roberts said of the 7-2 Game 4 win, with his team being one on 11 with the runners in the scoring position. We took some great batsmen and didn’t reward them, but if we keep getting those batsmen, I like our chances.”
Two Sides of Giants Pitching
As they’ve done all series, the Dodgers feasted against the underbelly of the Giants’ pitching staff, knocking around their No. 4 starter, Anthony Descalfani, and one mid-relief arm after another.
In the series, legendary pitchers named Webb, Camilo Doval or Tyler Rogers have combined 6.23 ERAs, 1.615 WHIPs and strikeouts (21) for almost half as many runs (10).
The problem for the Dodgers: Against the aforementioned trio—all of whom will probably play a key role in Game 5, with Webb starting up and Doval, the close, and Rogers, the submarine right hand, almost certain to come out of the bullpen—numbers is worrying.
In the 13⅓ innings against those three, the Dodgers have yet to score. He only has eight hits, has walked once and has been hit eight times.
Adjusting to the web’s groundball-inducing mix of sinkers, sliders and changeups will be especially important for the Dodgers, who never got their offense in Game 1 against the 24-year-old right-hander.
“I think we’re going to go back, talk as a group, come up with a better game plan than last time, make some adjustments and go from there,” Smith said.
dodgers deep bullpen
Roberts previously stated in the playoffs that he felt it was the best bullpen for the club during his tenure.
So far, the rescuers have supported it.
In this series, the Dodgers relievers have combined for 12 strikes in 2.19 ERAs and 12⅓ innings. Perhaps more impressively, they went to just one batsman in that period, leaving the Giants’ lineup with little room to breathe late in the game.
Closer Kenley Jensen has done well after his unscored innings in the wild-card game by dismissing the team in the ninth inning of Game 3. Blake Trainen and Joe Kelly have also jammed at various points.
Another impressive reliever: Brusadar Gretroll, who scored a 2⅔ scoreless innings and fired two 102.5 mph fastballs in Game 4.
“He’s really shown a lot of chivalry,” Roberts said of Greatroll, who is still not hitting strike outs, but has yet to drop a run in any of his four appearances in the playoffs. Look at the outings we’ve had him out there, he’s made good quality pitches and this moment isn’t too big for him.”
Will Smith’s hot bat, cool gloves
Smith’s two most memorable moments were during last year’s Dodgers World Series, producing a historic five-hit performance in Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres and hitting a crucial home run in Game 5 of the NLCS. . The Atlanta Braves helped spark the team’s return in that series.
But overall, his 2020 post season was somewhat underwhelming. He batted only .203, spent half the time serving as a designated hitter, and struggled to make frequent small contributions to fulfill his headlines.
This year his role is different. And so far, there have been results.
Smith has solidified himself as a full-time catcher for the Dodgers, which is matched by his superior pitch framing from the regular season (according to Baseball Savant, after ranking the worst in baseball last season, he has improved in that skill this year). League was above average) With a strong execution of the game plan, Walker Buehler’s Game 4 began to serve as the latest example.
More importantly, he has also been the Dodgers’ most dangerous batsman, crushing his second home run of the series in a two-hit performance on Thursday after hitting the cleanup spot.
In the latter five games of the season, Smith is batting .333 with three RBIs and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.206.
As they prepare for their 24th meeting against each other this season, neither team said they were too surprised by what they had seen in this series.
Both sides have pitched well. The Giants have had success at the plate with home runs and a versatile defensive lineup in the field. The Dodgers have been at their best when getting production off the bottom of the order.
And going into Game 5, “I’m not going to be surprised by anything, the Dodgers won’t be surprised by anything,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “This is where we are.”
So what will it take for one of the division rivals to finally break away and advance to the National League Championship Series?
“I think it’s just going out there and executing a plan aggressively,” Roberts said. “Stopping the Runs from Julio [Urías, the Dodgers’ Game 5 starter], for the people behind him, and trying hard enough to win a ball game. It’s funny that everything we’ve done from both sides comes into play. “