It all comes down to this, the mini-World Series between the Giants and Dodgers. Thursday night. National League Division Series Game 5. Oracle Park in San Francisco. The winner goes to the NL Championship Series, while the loser feels absolutely wrecked after winning 109 games total this year.
Let’s get to the preview!
Why the Giants will win
It’s what they’ve done all season. Winning a franchise-record 107 games, edging the Dodgers in the season series. In Game 1 of the NLDS, right-hander Logan Webb looked like he could pitch a shutout, but the Giants took him out after 7 2/3 innings of five-hit, 10-strikeout excellence. Nobody has pitched better in these playoffs. It was an extension of how he pitched against the Dodgers in the regular season.
We could get something different on Thursday, but it’s difficult to expect it. If Webb comes close to duplicating his Game 1 results, he can just pass the baton to Tyler Rogers and Camilo Doval and it’s good night, Los Angeles.
The Giants aren’t hitting much in this series (.184/.220/.304), but they do have four home runs. With left-hander Julio Urías on the mound to start, Buster Posey, Kris Bryant, Evan Longoria and Darrin Ruf become the most conspicuous picks to click. Longoria went deep into the teeth of the Candlestick Park-like wind at Dodger Stadium in Game 3, and Posey (5 for 16) and Bryant (6 for 13) are two Giants who’ve been able to get on base in the series.
Why the Dodgers will win
Even including Webb’s awesome outing, the Dodgers are out-pitching the Giants in the NLDS, putting up a 2.31 ERA with 36 strikeouts and six walks in 35 innings. Conversely, the Giants have allowed 15 earned runs in 35 innings. Urías put up five innings of one-run ball in Game 2, and he’ll have the rest of the Dodgers pitching staff (with the possible exception of Walker Buehler) backing him up in Game 5. The Dodgers bullpen has allowed just three runs in 17 innings in the series.
Mookie Betts is slugging .500 in the series and could be on the verge of having one of those Mookie Moments. Chris Taylor and Justin Turner have good histories against Webb, combining to go 7-for-20 with three doubles (by Turner) and a homer (by Taylor). Gavin Lux is stinging the ball (especially if the wind lets him), and he could be a factor that Webb didn’t have to deal with the first time.
Why the Giants will lose
Aside from Doval and Rogers, the bullpen has been vulnerable, allowing a 5.17 ERA in 15 ⅔ innings overall. If Webb can’t perform typically, Dodgers hitters can exploit San Francisco’s middle relief. The Giants haven’t been able to stop Betts or Will Smith, who have combined to go 11-for-31 with five extra-base hits (four by Smith).
Why the Dodgers will lose
Corey Seager, Trea Turner and Justin Turner are a combined 8-for-52 in the series. The Dodgers won’t have the home field and home crowd, which the Giants earned in the regular season.
Giants: Nobody, maybe even themselves, figured they’d get this far. It’s less recent than the Dodgers, but a few Giants players — notably Posey and Brandon Crawford — have World Series in their DNA. Nobody on the home side is going to shrink on the big stage.
Dodgers: Not only as the reigning World Series champs, the Dodgers also carry the expectation of winning it all again. And yet, they’ve unexpectedly been chasing the Giants all season. This is their final chance to catch them.
Giants 3, Dodgers 2.