The Dodgers will turn to Dustin May to start Friday in Game 5 of the NLCS, needing a win against the Braves to stave off elimination.
May has been used exclusively in shorter bursts this postseason, and has been quite effective, striking out six in 4⅔ scoreless innings in three games, retiring 14 of 17 batters faced. That included 21 pitches in 1⅔ innings in Game 1 of the NLCS, so he’ll technically be starting in Game 5 on three days rest.
Technically this will be May’s second postseason start, as he was an opener in Game 3 of the NLDS against San Diego, pitching an inning. But Friday May will be expected to handle a starter’s workload, or at least close to it.
“We’ll see on the length, and see how he’s throwing,” manager Dave Roberts said Thursday night. “He’s raring to go.”
Roberts said he told May of the Game 5 start on Wednesday.
One day earlier, May said he had no idea what his role was, other than to be ready whenever he was called upon.
“I’m completely comfortable being [in the bullpen], and I’m completely comfortable as a starter,” May said Tuesday. “Whatever role the team needs, I’m going to be able to play.”
May during the regular season had a 2.57 ERA with 44 strikeouts and 16 walks in 56 innings.
The Braves, leading the series three games to one, haven’t yet announced their starter for Game 5, but it figures to be a bullpen game.
So, expect that announcement on Friday. But this could be, for all intents and purposes, a bullpen game. Kyle Wright will be available. Huascar Ynoa and Grant Dayton were the only relievers Brian Snitker said would be unavailable.— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) October 16, 2020
If the Dodgers win on Friday, that would force a Game 6 on Saturday, which would be started by Walker Buehler, on regular rest. Buehler threw in the bullpen during the ninth inning on Thursday, getting his side session in after he was not used in the game.
“Walker wanted to make sure he was down there [in the bullpen], because if it got really crazy early, he’d be there to pick his teammates up,” Roberts said.
But to get to Buehler, the Dodgers need to win Game 5 on Friday first.