Following a wild first four games of the series, punctuated by the Chase Utley ‘slide’, the Mets and Dodgers are set to meet in a winner-take-all Game 5 Thursday night at Dodger Stadium with the winner going on to play the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. Clayton Kershaw proved himself in game four, pitching the Dodgers to a Game 5. Now in what is set to be a real pitcher’s duel, Zack Greinke will face off against young Jacob deGrom. Greinke got the victory in Game 2, following the Chase Utley slide and aftermath and deGrom outpitching Clayton Kershaw in game one.
So far the key to this series has been the ability of both teams to manufacture runs. Games One, Two, and Four were all decided by two or three runs and were strong pitching match ups. Game three was a bit of an anomaly with the two teams scoring a combined twenty runs in what was an unexpected offensive outburst. Don’t expect that kind of offense when deGrom and Greinke take the mound on Thursday night. Game 5 should be another pitcher’s duel between the two aces.
For the Dodgers, the key to victory, as it has been for Zack Greinke starts all season, is being able to score enough runs to get Greinke, and the team, the win. In Game 2, with Greinke on the mound, the Dodgers were able to push across five runs, although four of the five came in the seventh inning after the now-infamous slide. The Dodgers have struggled to provide Greinke enough run support over the last few months, and that could be an issue once again with Jacob deGrom taking the ball for the Mets.
For the Mets, the key is going to be keeping their home run bats hot. Last time they faced Greinke in Game 2, both Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto hit second inning home runs off of Greinke. Expect both of these two players to be in the lineup once again, ready to do damage to Greinke. Greinke has been one of the most effective pitchers in the league all season but like any other player, Greinke is not perfect. For the Mets to win Game 5 and advance to the NLCS they need to once again exploit those imperfections.
Game 5 should be the pitching duel of the century. With the season on the line, it is going to be hard to expect any more than one or two runs for each team on Thursday night. If the Game 5’s in the American League division series were any indication, we will be in for a wild ride come Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.