The Washington Nationals can punch their first ticket to the National League Championship Series since moving from Montreal with a win in Game 4 of the NLDS on Tuesday at the Los Angeles Dodgers. If L.A. wins, there will be a Game 5 back in D.C. on Thursday. The Dodgers are slight favorites on MLB odds for Tuesday. Keep in mind that the probable pitchers listed for Tuesday could change.
Here’s a Look at the Washington at Los Angeles NLDS Game 4 Expert Pick & TV Info
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 11, 2016
When: Tuesday, Oct. 11, 5 PM ET
Where: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
Probable pitchers (away/home): Joe Ross/Julio Urias
TV: Fox Sports 1
Opening MLB Lines: TBA
Why Bet on Washington?
The Nationals took Game 3 8-3 on Monday. Jayson Werth had three hits and two RBIs, including a homer. Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman also knocked in two. Reliever Sammy Solis got the win. Kenta Maeda took the loss for Los Angeles.
The ties between the Nationals and Dodgers run deep, starting with Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who played for LA for eight seasons (1976-1983). Baker was a two-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, and a Gold Glove outfielder for the Dodgers, hitting .281 in 1,117 games with 144 home runs, 179 doubles, and 586 RBI, and an integral part of the aforementioned 1981 World Series Championship team.
Would the Nationals bring back ace Max Scherzer on short rest Tuesday? Scherzer threw only 91 pitches over six innings in his Game 1 loss on Friday. I think the Nationals will save him for a possible Game 5. Thus it likely will be Joe Ross (7-5, 3.43) on Tuesday. He made only three starts in late September after returning from shoulder inflammation, and he never threw more than 90 pitches over four innings. What can the Nats expect from him in a start of this significance?
Ross’ last start was on Sept. 29 vs. Arizona. Ross went four innings against the Diamondbacks, allowing one run on three hits and two walks while striking out six. At times, his fastball velocity dropped from 96 to as low as 90, which was what happened in July when the Nationals put him on the DL in the first place. The right-hander was not especially efficient, needing 90 pitches to complete the four frames, but what’s important is that he’s rebuilt his strength in time for the postseason. Ross missed two and a half months due to a shoulder injury, limiting him to 19 starts during the course of the 2016 campaign.
“I felt good,” Ross said after his last outing. “It was kind of tough with the rain as far as driving down the mound and stuff like that. I’m not looking too much into [the velocity]. . . . If I didn’t feel great, I guess it would be a different story.”
Ross pitched at the Dodgers on June 22 and took a no-decision, allowing two runs and seven hits over 6.1 innings. Corey Seager had three of the seven hits off Ross, including a solo homer in the third.
Why Bet on Los Angeles?
The Dodgers were scheduled to start rookie lefty Julio Urias but could opt to pitch ace lefty Clayton Kershaw on three days of rest. Kershaw threw five strenuous innings in the Game 1 victory. He needed 101 pitches to last that long, his highest pitch count since before he went on the disabled list in June because of a herniated disk.
Urias (5-2, 3.39) would be the first 20-year- old to start a postseason game since Bret Saberhagen in 1984. Urias will be 20 years and 60 days old on Tuesday. Nobody that young has ever won a postseason game. Urias and Dwight Gooden (31 starts in 1984) are the only pitchers in the past 41 years to make 15 starts or more in their age-19 season. Urias’ ERA is made more noteworthy by the fact that he gave up a combined eight runs in his first two major league appearances (7⅔ innings). His ERA is 2.73 when subtracting those first two outings when he was sizing up a new league and a different strike zone.
In two starts against the Nationals, Urias gave up just three earned runs in nine innings (3.00 ERA), but did not get a decision in either outing. Making only four appearances in September has kept Urias fresh. Urias finished the regular season with 122 innings between the majors and Triple-A, already a career high. He threw 45 innings at Oklahoma City and most of them were stress-free. Three times, he was removed after throwing six shutout innings.
The youngest postseason winner ever was Odalis Perez, who was 20 years, 112 days old when he picked up a win in relief for Atlanta against Chicago in the 1998 NLDS. The youngest starter to win a game was Bullet Joe Bush (20.316) in the 1913 World Series for the Philadelphia A’s. The youngest starter to win a clinching game is Fernando Valenzuela, like Urias a native of Mexico and a Dodgers’ left-hander, who was 20 years, 352 days old when he beat the Expos in the decisive Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS.
My Expert Pick
If it’s Urias vs. Ross, I like the Dodgers to force a Game 5.