The Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals will play their most important game of the 2016 season tonight. The Dodgers at the Nationals is a true winner take all game. The victor will move on to the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs while the loser will be left with nothing but “what-ifs” as their season will come to an end.
According to a CBS Sports report, the moment the Nationals were hoping for two years ago has finally come to fruition. A chance to win its first playoff series as a franchise rides on the $200 million dollar arm of Max Scherzer. Scherzer was signed by the Nationals as a free agent back in January of 2015.
Mad Max has had a great three-year run, posting monster numbers with the Detroit Tigers and the Washington Nationals, although he hasn’t fared well in the games that mean the most, which are the playoffs.
Scherzer is 4-4 with a 3.93 ERA in 13 postseason games, including 11 starts. Scherzer knows that his record in the postseason isn’t where he would like it to be, but he also knows this game isn’t about personal stats, it is about winning championships.
“It is all about winning,” Scherzer said. “When you get to the park and you come into the clubhouse, your only thought is about winning and what it takes to do that. There are times, off the field, you are making decisions… that has to subside when you walk through the clubhouse.”
Game 5 won’t be easy for Scherzer and the Nationals as they prepare to face the Dodgers’ Rich Hill. Hill was great for the Oakland A’s, but it has been a bit of a bumpy ride for the hard-throwing lefty since coming over to the Dodgers. Hill hasn’t had much success in the postseason either. He is 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in two postseason starts, including a 5-2 loss in Game 2 of this series.
In a weird way, the Dodgers may be happy to see Scherzer on the mound tonight.
L.A. has already beaten Scherzer in this series, and as a team, the Dodgers fair much better against right-handed pitching. The Dodgers have the lowest slugging and on-base percentage vs. lefties of any of the remaining playoff teams and have had one of the worst of the entire 2016 season.
However, when you are this far into the year, sometimes stats just don’t matter. The winner of this game will be the team that makes the least amount of mistakes and has one of their superstars come up big.
Las Vegas odds makers have the Nationals listed as the favorite at -150, with the over/under number set at 7. That total seems a bit low for two pitchers who have struggled quite a bit in this series.
The prediction is that Washington is overdue for this. It is time for Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, or Jayson Werth to finally get the proverbial monkey off their backs and finally win a postseason series. They are at home in a “winner-take-all” scenario; they have the “superstar” cast, and one or two of these guys are finally going to have to step up and play the role of the hero.
In the end, the Nationals will pull off the win and advance to the 2016 NLCS to face the Chicago Cubs.
Tonight’s Dodgers at Nationals Game 5 will start just after 8 p.m. ET from Nationals Park. Live coverage will be aired on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) nationally, and it will stream live on FOXSportsGo.com. For fans on the go, you can catch all of the action through your smartphones, tablets or any other device by downloading the FOX Sports Go app.
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]