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Dodgers need Buehler again to advance

Walker Buehler will be on the mound in biggest game this season

2019 NLDS Game 1 - Washington Nationals v. Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

After a historic 2019 regular season that featured the most wins, most runs scored, the most home runs and biggest run differential in Dodger franchise history, their season will come down to one game on Wednesday.

On the mound, both teams have their best man starting

Walker Buehler will start against Stephen Strasburg with the winner taking the Divisional Series and moving on to the Championship Series.

Buehler started and won Game 163 last season at Dodger Stadium against the Rockies and he started Game 7 in the National League Championship Series in Milwaukee.

Last Thursday, Buehler started Game 1 and pitched six scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and three walks while striking out eight.

The Nationals will have Stephen Strasburg pitching for them and he has been brilliant in the postseason since his first start in 2014.

The Nationals pitching plan should be obvious by now, try to get as much as they can from Strasburg, see if they can bridge any innings they can from Patrick Corbin and yes, Max Scherzer and then use Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson to fill in any gaps.

The Dodgers will likely have Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu available in the bullpen. Other than that, it is hard to say who they would entrust with the ball on Wednesday besides Kenta Maeda and maybe Kenley Jansen.

At the plate, neither team has been explosive

To some extent, this postseason version of the 2019 Dodgers resembles the 2018 team, in their wins, they have scored six and ten runs respectively and in their losses, they scored twice on Friday and once on Monday.

If there is one thing that the Nationals have been doing, they have gotten the Dodgers to chase pitches, mostly off-speed varieties, that they were able to avoid doing as much during the regular season. Strasburg was particularly good at that in his Game 2 start.

The Nationals, outside of when they faced Buehler, have not chased as much as the Dodgers but they have not really hit that well this series though they have been more consistent. After being shutout in Game 1, they have scored four, four and six runs in the last three games.

Both teams have their own narratives to deal with

For the Dodgers it is simple, to accomplish everything they did in the regular season and then lose in the Divisional Series will be a huge disappointment. This team knew for months that they were playoff bound and to some extent have been working on the small details for this postseason since the trade deadline.

Twice before, the Dodgers have played NLDS Game 5, losing at home to the Mets in 2015 and winning in Washington in 2016.

The Nationals have not won a playoff series since they were the Montreal Expos advanced to the 1981 National League Championship Series. This will be the Nationals fourth NLDS Game 5 and overall, they have lost four Divisional Series since 2012.

This could be the last season with both Anthony Rendon and Strasburg, Rendon will be a free agent at the end of the season and Strasburg can opt out after this season too.

How will this game play out, I’d expect excellent pitching from both starters and it will depend on which team can scratch out a run or two early. The Dodgers will try to get the Nationals bullpen as early as they can but they will need to remember their 2019 selves in order to do that.

Outside of that, it is anyone’s guess who will win. Not exactly the best outlook for a 106-win team but that is what happens sometimes.

Game Info

First pitch: 5:37 p.m. PT


Radio: KLAC 570