A berth in the NLCS will be on the line tonight in Los Angeles, as Zack Greinke and the Dodgers face Jacob deGrom and the Mets in a winner-take-all NLDS Game 5.
Thursday night brings the third and final Game 5 of this year’s Division Series round, as the Dodgers and Mets meet in Los Angeles to determine who will get to host the Cubs in the National League Championship Series. In both of Wednesday night’s ALDS Games 5, the home team and team that won Game 4 was the victor. However, each ALDS had an additional factor not present in this series. The Astros' loss to the Royals was a dead-team-walking game; Houston came just a handful of outs from a series victory in Game 4 before losing that game, then suffered a relatively listless loss in Game 5. The Blue Jays' victory over the Rangers, meanwhile, completed a comeback from an 0–2 deficit; teams that lose the first two but then force a Game 5 are now 9–5 in those decisive games.
Even with those victories, the home team has won just half of the decisive Games 5 in major league history (19 of 38), and the Game 4 winner has won just one more than half of those games (20 of 38). The Mets and Dodgers have alternated wins to this point in this series. Of the dozen best-of-five series to follow that pattern, seven stayed on turn, with the Game 1 winner winning Game 5, while five saw the pattern snapped in Game 5.
• In a series featuring several of the game’s best pitchers, deGrom’s Game 1 outing at Dodger Stadium remains the most dominant of the eight starting pitching performances we’ve seen thus far. The 27-year-old righty struck out 13 across seven scoreless innings and didn’t allow a runner to reach third base. He was just as good in his lone regular season start against Los Angeles this season, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings and again not allowing a runner to reach third base. In those two starts combined, the Dodgers have hit .145/.203/.182 against him, and Adrian Gonzalez, who is the active Dodger with the best career numbers against the sophomore fireballer, has gone 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.
• Greinke has a similarly impressive record against the Mets this year. In Game 2 of this series, he struck out eight in seven innings without walking a batter and allowed just two runners past first base. Both of those runners were jogging, however, as second-inning solo home runs by Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto gave the Mets an early lead that would evaporate on the infamous Chase Utley slide in the seventh inning. Add in two regular-season starts, both also of exactly seven innings in length, and Greinke has posted a 1.71 ERA against the Mets this year. But in the latter of those two regular-season starts, which took place on July 26, Greinke locked horns with deGrom and was out-pitched, with the two starters passing a 2–0 Mets lead to their respective bullpens in a game the Mets ultimately won 3–2.
• At the plate, Greinke is 2-for-4 in his career against deGrom, while deGrom is 2-for-5 with a double and walk in his career against Greinke.
• Granderson—who has faced Greinke more than any other hitter on the Mets, albeit with limited success—is New York’s leading hitter in this series, having gone 6-for-14 (.429) with a pair of doubles, three walks and a team-leading five RBIs. He was 2-for-3 against Greinke in Game 2 of this series.
• The leading hitter in the series for either team is Justin Turner, who is wearing out the Mets with a 7-for-15 (.467) performance with four doubles and a walk. Turner went 2-for-3 with a double against deGrom in Game 1, though he was 0-for-5 against him going into that contest. Turner has reached base multiple times in every game in this series and is hot enough that the Mets may want to pitch him carefully with runners in scoring position and take their chances with Andre Ethier if the situation allows for it. Ethier tripled in his first career plate appearance against deGrom last year but is just 1-for-8 against him since.
• Pedro Baez and Alex Wood are the only Dodgers relievers to be charged with a run in this series. Kenley Jansen, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, Joel Peralta and lefties Luis Avilan and J.P. Howell have combined to allow just one hit in nine innings, striking out 13. That one hit, however, was a Curtis Granderson double off fellow lefty Howell that drove in two runners left on base by Baez in Game 3.
• The Mets’ bullpen has been less reliable, but closer Jeurys Familia hasn’t allowed a hit in 3 1/3 innings of work, and setup man Tyler Clippard rebounded from his poor showing in Game 1 with a perfect inning in a losing effort in Game 4. The Mets are obviously hoping that deGrom can get the ball, and ideally a lead, directly to their end-game relievers.
• Both closers, Jansen and Familia, have four-out saves in this series, so don’t be surprised to see either in the eighth inning tonight. For Jansen, his four-out save in Game 4 was just his second multi-inning appearance this season. Familia is more accustomed to longer outings, having converted three five-out saves during the regular season; he's made 11 multi-inning appearances this year, including his four-out save in Game 1.