The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets are tied after the first four games of their National League Division Series, and their fate will be decided by two of the best pitchers in baseball. L.A. sends Zack Greinke to the mound against Jacob deGrom and the visiting Mets on Thursday night in a deciding Game 5.
The Dodgers evened up the series at 2-2 on Monday night with a masterful performance by Clayton Kershaw. He allowed just one run and struck out eight batters in seven innings, pitching on just three days’ rest. With the series returning to Los Angeles, Las Vegas odds makers list the Dodgers as slight favorites to win Game 5. The contest, however, is essentially a toss-up.
The Mets are +140 underdogs, according to vegasinsider.com, while the Dodgers have -150 betting odds to win Game 5. Since both Greinke and deGrom have been so good this year, the game can go either way.
Greinke is the favorite to win the NL Cy Young award, having led all of MLB with a 1.66 ERA. The last starting pitcher to have such a low ERA was Greg Maddux in 1995, and no other pitcher since 1969 has posted an ERA that low. Since joining the Dodgers in 2013, Greinke has been exceptional in five playoff starts, posting a 2.06 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP.
Aided by Chase Utley’s controversial slide that aided a Dodgers comeback, Greinke got the win over the Mets in Game 2. He allowed two runs in seven innings, making his only real mistakes on home runs to Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto. The Mets’ roster has a combined .215 average against the Dodgers’ starter.
As good as Greinke was in Game 2, deGrom was even better in his Game 1 victory. Making his postseason debut, the 27-year-old threw seven shutout innings, striking out 13 batters. Los Angeles’ roster is hitting a combined .175 against deGrom.
DeGrom’s 2.54 ERA in the regular season ranked fourth in the NL, and he’s pitching as well as he has all year. In his last 17 innings, the right-hander has allowed just one run, striking out 29 batters and allowing 13 runners to reach base.
Adrian Gonzalez might need to have a big game in order for the Dodgers to get on the board. He’s three-for-eight against deGrom with two home runs. Chase Utley hasn’t seen the field since he broke Ruben Tejada’s leg, but he has three hits in 10 at-bats against the Mets’ ace. The Dodgers’ lineup, though, has a lot more holes than New York.
The Mets had an anemic offense before the All-Star Break, but trading for Cespedes, bringing up Conforto and adding a healthy David Wright to the lineup helped the team score more runs than any NL club in the season’s final two and a half months. The Dodgers were near the bottom of the NL in the second half of the season, ranking 13th with just over four runs per game.
With all hands on deck for Game 5, the Mets also have the advantage in the bullpen. Having just pitched on three days’ rest, Kershaw is almost certain to be unavailable on Thursday. The Mets, though, will have the luxury of being able to use Noah Syndergaard, who will be on full rest. The rookie allowed three runs in 6.1 innings in Game 2, striking out nine.
The winner of Thursday’s game will have home-field advantage against the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.
Expect deGrom and Greinke to bring their best in Game 5, and one mistake could be the difference between a win and a loss. DeGrom hasn’t allowed a home run in over a month, while Greinke has surrendered six long balls in his last six starts. A big hit by Cespedes or Curtis Granderson might be the deciding factor in a low-scoring game.
New York over Los Angeles, 2-1