The Los Angeles Dodgers host the Washington Nationals on Wednesday in the Game 5 of their National League Division Series with Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman summing the situation up best. "Walker Buehler versus Stephen Strasburg, with Kershaw probably available in the 'pen," Zimmerman told reporters after belting a three-run homer Monday to help force a deciding game. "This is why you play the game. This is what we live for."
Buehler, the Game 1 winner, hasn't yielded a run in his last 16 2/3 postseason innings for the Dodgers while Strasburg won Game 2 and has permitted one run in nine playoff frames this season. Kershaw, who lost Game 2 on Friday, pitched a scoreless inning of relief on the final day of the regular season and will be available Wednesday on full rest. Los Angeles, which has lost the last two World Series, exploded for a 10-4 victory in Game 3 before being shut down by Max Scherzer in Monday's 6-1 setback. Washington is 0-4 in their NL Division Series history, losing to the Dodgers in Game 5 at Nationals Park in 2016.
TV: 8:37 p.m. ET, TBS
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.00 ERA) vs. Dodgers RH Walker Buehler (1-0, 0.00)
Strasburg performs well under a microscope with a 0.64 postseason ERA - the lowest in playoff history with a minimum of four starts - after allowing one run and three hits with 10 strikeouts over six innings of a 4-2 victory at Los Angeles on Friday. "I just learned over the years that pressure's a funny thing," the 31-year-old San Diego native told reporters. "I think it's something you have complete control over." This could be the final appearance in a Washington uniform for Strasburg, who could opt out of his contract after the season.
Buehler yielded one hit and three walks while striking out eight across six innings of a 6-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday and offered a simple perspective for Game 5. "There's not a lot to it," the 25-year-old Kentucky native told reporters. "We've got to win a game, and if we don't, we go home." Buehler is 7-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 15 starts at Dodger Stadium this season and 11-5, 2.52 at home in 33 career games (29 starts) - playoffs included.
1. Nationals CF Victor Robles has missed the last two contests after straining his right hamstring in Game 2.
2. Los Angeles 3B Justin Turner belted his second home run of the series Monday and had a sacrifice fly against Strasburg in Game 2.
3. The road team is 19-13 in Game 5s in division series history.