For the Dodgers to advance to the National League Championship Series, they need to beat the Padres both Saturday and Sunday. But in order to get to a Game 5 at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles first needs to win Game 4 or its season is over.
Elimination games are nothing new for the Dodgers. Since Dave Roberts was hired in 2016, the Dodgers have played 16 times with a chance to get eliminated, four more than any other team. LA is 11-5 (.688) in those games; only the Nationals (6-2, .750) and Padres (3-1, .750) have a better winning percentage in such games over the last seven postseasons.
The Dodgers have trailed in the Division Series twice before under Roberts, winning the final two games in both 2016 against Washington and in 2021 against San Francisco. In both cases, LA won Game 5 on the road after winning Game 4 at home. This year, for the Dodgers to pull off that feat, the order would be reversed.
Here’s a look at every Dodgers elimination game under Roberts, dating back to 2016.
Trailing the Nationals two games to one, the Dodgers started Clayton Kershaw on short rest for the fourth year in a row in Game 4. They rode him too long, with three Nationals runs scored in the seventh to tie to the game, but the Dodgers rallied in the eighth thanks to Andrew Toles getting hit by a pitch, and singles by Andre Ethier and Chase Utley.
Game 5 was one of the defining games of the last decade. Max Scherzer held the Dodgers scoreless until a four-run seventh. Peak Kenley Jansen was pushed to his limit, recording seven outs, but also walking four. Enter Kershaw, who entered a one-run game with two on and one out in the ninth, on one day rest. He got the final two outs, sending the Dodgers to the NLCS.
Trailing 3-2 in the series back at Wrigley Field, Kershaw ran out of gas as the Cubs shutout the Dodgers on their way to snapping a 108-year title drought.
2017 World Series
The Dodgers returned home from Houston trailing the series 3-2, and won Game 6 behind a Joc Pederson home run, plus Rich Hill and friends on the mound on Halloween. Enrique Hernández was dressed as Chewbacca after the game. During Roberts’ postgame press conference, Tommy Lasorda walked into the room and said, “You haven’t done shit until you win tomorrow.”
Game 7 was a different story, with Yu Darvish delivering a second straight non-competitive start, allowing five runs while recording five outs, taking the air out of Dodger Stadium.
A back-and-forth series ended with a Game 7 in Milwaukee. All the Dodgers offense came on home runs, with Cody Bellinger hitting a two-run shot in the second and Yasiel Puig widening the lead with a three-run shot in the eighth. Kershaw closed out the 5-1 win with a scoreless ninth.
2018 World Series
Down 3-1, Kershaw was out-dueled by David Price. The Red Sox hit four home runs, two by Steve Pearce, to ensure a second straight championship celebration at Dodger Stadium by a team that wasn’t the Dodgers.
Up 3-1 in Game 5 against the Nationals, Kershaw was brought in in relief, and gave up home runs by Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto to tie the game. Jansen was on the outs, and the Dodgers turned to Joe Kelly for two innings, which included a 10th-inning grand slam by Howie Kendrick to eliminate LA. A despondent Kershaw after the game said, “Everything people say is true right now about the postseason and I understand that. There’s nothing I can do about it right now. It’s a terrible feeling.”
Down three games to one to Atlanta, the Dodgers rallied back to win three in a row. All three wins had signature defensive plays by Mookie Betts. Will Smith’s home run off Will Smith won Game 5, Corey Seager hit two home runs to back Walker Buehler in Game 6, and Bellinger hit a pennant-winning home run in Game 7, the celebration of which dislocated his shoulder and started a putrid two-year stretch.
2021 wild card game
A one-and-done battle with the Cardinals came down to Chris Taylor breaking a tie with a walk-off home run.
Trailing 2-1 against the 107-win Giants, the 106-win Dodgers rallied behind Buehler on three days rest to win Game 4 at home. In Game 5 in San Francisco, the Dodgers limited Julio Urías to only four innings and had him follow an opener, then used Max Scherzer to close out a one-run win in the ninth. Bellinger’s ninth-inning single delivered the series-winning run.
The Dodgers spotted the Braves another 3-1 series lead, then won Game 5 at home thanks to three home runs by Taylor. But with Scherzer and his “overcooked arm” unable to pitch in Game 6 in Atlanta, Buehler started on short rest again. Eddie Rosario’s three-run home run in the fourth inning sent the Braves to the World Series.
The Dodgers in their elimination games under Roberts are 4-2 on the road, and 7-3 at home.