Washington Nationals: What To Watch For In Game 5 Of NLDS

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Oct 7, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning during game one of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning during game one of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
Oct 11, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) delivers a pitch in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals during game four of the 2016 NLDS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

How Quick Do Closers Come In?

With a day off in between games 4 and 5, you would have to think both closers are going to be ready to give their teams multiple innings if needed. Both Mark Melancon (Washington Nationals) and Kenley Jansen (Dodgers) have appeared in three games for their teams.

Out of the two closers, Jansen has given up the only runs in the series. He gave up four runs in 1/3 of an inning in Game 3, but that was in a non-save situation. In his two save opportunities, he has struck out five and given up one hit in 2.2 innings.

Meanwhile, Melancon has appeared in one save opportunity and converted it in Game 2. In this series, he is 1-for-1 in saves and has given up three hits while striking out four and walking one in three innings.

When it comes to saves, these are two of the best closers in the National League. Both of them have blown only one save since August 1. If Jansen or Melancon get the ball with a lead late, it’s going to be tough for the opposing team to mount a comeback.

So far this series, these two bullpens have combined to give up seven runs (five of them by the Dodgers). If I had to name a key setup reliever for both teams, I would go with Joe Blanton for the Dodgers and Shawn Kelley for the Nats.

During this series, Blanton has one win (Game 4) and has given up only one hit while striking out five and walking one in 3.2 innings. Over his last 25 innings in the regular season, the 35-year-old gave up three runs (all in August).

As for Kelley, he may be the freshest reliever in either of the bullpens. He only pitched 1.2 innings in Game 3, when he struck out three of the five batters. Kelley has given up one hit over his last 12 appearances dating back to the regular season. However, he only went more than one inning four times during the season.

Now, if Scherzer can go eight innings and give the ball to Melancon, then that would be perfect for the Washington Nationals. However, in a series where the bullpen has needed to get key outs, I would expect the same in Game 5.

 

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