MLB playoffs: Nationals vs. Dodgers NLDS Game 5 pitching plans as Stephen Strasburg faces Walker Buehler

After a matinee of Game 5 between the Cardinals and Braves, the Nationals and Dodgers are the clear main event in Dodger Stadium Wednesday night. It looks like a pitching matchup for the ages, but let's take a look at who all might be used. 

Nationals

Stephen Strasburg gets the ball in the decisive matchup for Washington after he was amazing in Game 2. It's hard to bet against a repeat with him now on normal rest instead of two days removed from a stellar relief outing in the wild card. 

We saw Max Scherzer come in breathing fire in the eighth inning in Game 2, might there be another repeat? 

"I doubt it," Scherzer said after Game 4. "No, I mean, my arm is hanging right now. That was, that, that pushed me all the way to the edge and then some. So, yeah, I can't imagine any scenario where I'm pitching."

That sucks, but it sounds like we won't get a repeat. I still don't think there's a zero percent chance he gets the itch in a close game and heads down to the bullpen, but the odds are against it. 

Nationals manager Dave Martinez probably then needs seven out of Strasburg before Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson bring things home. 

Let me throw two more names in the mix: 

  • Patrick Corbin's Game 3 relief outing was a disaster, but he was on two days of rest after throwing 107 pitches. It sounded like a fun idea at the time, but in hindsight that was pushing it. Now he's on two days of rest again, but he only threw 35 pitches. I don't think it's a stretch to believe he can get three outs. 
  • Anibal Sanchez was amazing in Game 3. It might be pushing it with only two days of rest after 87 pitches, but it's an all-hands-on-deck situation. He doesn't have nearly the workload this season that Corbin did. 

If the Nationals need to pitch someone other than their four starters, Doolittle or Hudson, I'd say things have gone wrong or headed deep into extras. In either case, that wouldn't bode well for the Nationals with their poor bullpen. 

Dodgers

Similar to Strasburg, Walker Buehler was great in Game 1 and he's actually on a day extra of rest, so it's hard to bet against a repeat. The most likely outcome here is we see something like 1-0, 2-1 or even 0-0 heading to the late innings. 

I'm sure at some point we'll get our obligatory Adam Kolarek vs. Juan Soto matchup. 

Past that, the Dodgers should only be looking to use probably Kenta Maeda, if needed, and Kenley Jansen

I do think Dave Roberts is strongly convicted to forcing Clayton Kershaw into the game, though. He'll be on normal rest after 99 pitches in Game 2. He'll certainly be physically fine and he actually closed the Nats down in Game 5 of the NLDS in 2016, it just seems wholly unnecessary unless Buehler falters in the early innings or this goes to extras. It sounds like it'll be the case. 

"Obviously the game got away from us and so now to preserve him and to have him ready to go, whatever we need from him, for Game 5, is certainly a good thing to be piggybacked at some point with Walker," Roberts said after Game 4.

There you have it. Expect it to go Buehler, Kershaw and then probably Jansen with a Kolarek vs. Soto matchup. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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