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Dodgers get another try at an NLDS Game 5

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Thursday winner plays the Cubs in Chicago on Saturday

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals
Both Justin Turner and Corey Seager homered against Max Scherzer in Game 1.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight year, the Dodgers have reached a winner-take-all Game 5 of the National League Division Series. Last year, the series was won by the road team and Daniel Murphy moved on to the NLCS. This year, only one of those can happen after the Dodgers battle the Nationals in Game 5 on Thursday night at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.

Murphy has been a thorn in the Dodgers’ side for the bulk of this series, as he was in 2015 while with the Mets. The Nationals second baseman drove in four runs on Tuesday in Game 4, and in two years of playoff matchups against the Dodgers is hitting .382/.421/.676 with 11 RBI in nine games.

With Game 5 looming, let’s check in with our series preview and see how things are going through the first four contests.

Turner vs. Turner

Justin Turner has been the same force he was in the middle of the lineup for the Dodgers over the final four months of the season, and the same one who dominated at the plate in the 2015 NLDS. Turner is 5-for-11 (.455) with four walks (.647 on-base percentage), scoring five runs and driving in three in the first four games of the series.

Dating back to 2015, Turner has reached base at least two times in all nine of his postseason starts, and reached a select group during Tuesday’s game.

Turner’s third-inning home run against Max Scherzer in Game 1 is his only extra-base hit in this series. He might need another off Scherzer if the Dodgers are going to advance.

Trea Turner has had an up-and-down series, but has steadily improved as the series progressed. He struck out three times in the series opener and has whiffed 10 times in 19 plate appearances in the series, but has reached base seven times (.368 on-base percentage) and scored five runs in four games.

The Nationals leadoff hitter had three hits and scored three runs in Game 4. The Dodgers so far have done a good job at limiting his running, holding him to one steal attempt in four games. He was successful.

Dodgers vs. lefties

Thanks in large part to a timely pinch-hit home run by Carlos Ruiz in Game 3, the Dodgers were able to get Gio Gonzalez out of the game in the fifth inning in their only game against a southpaw starter this series. But overall the Dodgers have still struggled mightily against Nationals lefties through four games, hitting just .152/.264/.261 (7-for-46) with 12 strikeouts.

Against the relief trio of Sammy Solis, Marc Rzepczynski and Oliver Perez, the Dodgers have been almost completely neutralized, going 3-for-29 with eight strikeouts, hitting .103/.257/.103.

The Nationals bullpen as a whole has been magnificent, posting a 1.03 ERA, with 22 strikeouts and seven walks in 17⅔ innings. The only runs allowed by Washington relievers came in Game 4.

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals
Sammy Solis has 4⅓ scoreless innings so far in the NLDS, pitching in all four games in relief.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Catchers

The Nationals are without Wilson Ramos, but their catchers are holding their own in the series. Pedro Severino and Jose Lobato are 3-for-16 in the series, but Severino doubled and scored to help limit Clayton Kershaw to five innings in Game 1 and Lobaton hit a series-changing three-run home run off a hanging Rich Hill curveball in Game 2.

The Dodgers trio are a combined 3-for-18, with the Ruiz home run the main blow for Los Angeles.

Yasmani Grandal has had a very rough series at the plate, going 2-for-15 with a walk, including 0 for his last 11. Grandal, one of the key cogs in the Dodgers’ offensive machine during the regular season, hitting .228/.339/.477 while lead the team in home runs (27, tied with Turner) and walks (64), is 0-for-6 with runners on base during the series with 12 runners left on, including 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a double play with the bases loaded.

Starting off slow

The starting pitching from both teams have left quite a bit to be desired through four games. The Dodgers’ starters have a collective 7.58 ERA while averaging just 4.75 innings per start.

The Nationals starters have a 6.75 ERA while averaging just 4⅓ innings. Their bullpen has recorded one more out than the starters so far in this series.

Kershaw and Scherzer are the only starters to even last five innings in a start in thiss series. The Dodgers figure to have all hands on deck as their pitching plan of attack in Game 5, while on the other side LA’s success might depend on how quickly they can get Scherzer out of the game.

Under the lights

After starts at 2:38 p.m. PT, 10:08 a.m., 1:08 p.m. and 2:08 p.m., the Dodgers and Nationals finally start a game under the lights in Game 5, a 5:08 p.m. PT start and 8:08 p.m. local start.

Game 5 info

Series tied, 2-2

Time: 5:08 p.m. PT

TV: Fox Sports 1 (Kenny Albert, Tom Verudcci, Harold Reynolds, Jon Morosi)

Local radio: 570 AM (Charley Steiner and Rick Monday)

National radio: ESPN Radio (Dave O’Brien, Jim Bowden)

Online: Fox Sports Go app or Postseason.tv