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Thursday NLCS open thread

The Braves and Dodgers are playing Game 5 of their series in Los Angeles tonight. The Dodgers have to win or the series is over.

Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game One
Braves starter Max Fried had a 3.07 ERA this season. He’ll try to knock out the Dodgers tonight.
Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images

How would you feel if the Orioles were facing elimination in a postseason series and you knew that the plan going into that game was that they were going to deploy a bullpen game? That is the turf that Dodgers fans are on heading into Game 5 of the NLCS tonight. They have to win to keep the series going, and they are going to do a bullpen game to do it.

I do not feel terribly bad for the Dodgers fans, given that their favorite baseball team just won the World Series last year and won 106 games in the regular season this year. The Dodgers have been in the postseason every year since the 2013 season and have competed in the World Series three times since the 2017 season. So, you know.

The first reliever who will be sent out by the Dodgers is Joe Kelly. Should you subscribe to the theory of lingering dislike for players based on how long in their careers they were on the Red Sox, that dislike may still be hanging on. Kelly was a Red Sock for five seasons, the last of which was in 2018. I still think of him as a Red Sock. If he stinks tonight, that’s probably how I’ll chuckle about it.

Kelly has not made a multi-inning start since the 2016 season, so again, it’s going to be the bullpen trying to patch together a game while the offense scores enough for them to win. Can they pull it off? Some seemingly weird strategies have worked out in the 2021 postseason. Maybe this one will work for them too.

This contest is scheduled for an 8:08 first pitch. Tune in to TBS if you want to watch it.

Los Angeles Dodgers lineup

  1. Mookie Betts - RF
  2. Trea Turner - 2B
  3. Corey Seager - SS
  4. Will Smith - C
  5. AJ Pollock - LF
  6. Albert Pujols - 1B
  7. Chris Taylor - 3B
  8. Cody Bellinger - CF
  9. Joe Kelly - P

Most Dodgers lineups look pretty good, given that the team scored 830 runs in the regular season and had the second-highest slugging percentage in the NL. This is no guarantee that it will be good enough tonight. Two of the team’s better hitters are absent.

Max Muncy has missed the whole postseason after a fluke injury near the end of the regular season. Justin Turner injured his hamstring in yesterday’s loss. Those guys hit 63 home runs between them and they will be of no help tonight.

A different hero must emerge. When the Dodgers pulled off a crazy comeback on Tuesday night, the hero was Cody Bellinger, who tied that game with a three-run home run. Bellinger had a .542 OPS in the regular season. There is a song lyric in the Orioles canon about that phenomenon, I think.

Atlanta Braves lineup

  1. Eddie Rosario - LF
  2. Ozzie Albies - 2B
  3. Freddie Freeman - 1B
  4. Austin Riley - 3B
  5. Adam Duvall - CF
  6. Joc Pederson - RF
  7. Dansby Swanson - SS
  8. Travis d’Arnaud - C
  9. Max Fried - P