The Dodgers’ World Series hopes hinge on beating the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Thursday. A loss and their season is over. A win and they advance to play the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS. Those scenarios often breed an all-hands-on-deck pitching approach.
In this case, that would include having Max Scherzer available out of the bullpen on two days’ rest. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts repeated Thursday that he doesn’t envision Scherzer pitching in the game.
“It’s highly unlikely,” Roberts said. “The goal is still to win the World Series and have Max starting Game 1 in the NLCS, if we get there, increase that chance, but obviously I’m not immune to the fact that you don’t get there unless you win Game 5.”
Scherzer was dominant in his Game 3 start on Monday, holding the Giants to one run on three hits with 10 strikeouts over seven innings in a 1-0 loss. It was a rebound performance after three subpar outings to close out the regular season and begin the playoffs.
The 37-year-old right-hander, acquired from the Washington Nationals at the July 30 trade deadline, has experience pitching in relief in these situations. It just wasn’t a good experience. Scherzer, then with the Nationals, gave up four runs (two earned) in one inning of relief in Game 5 of the 2017 NLDS against the Chicago Cubs. The Nationals lost 9-8 and were eliminated that night.
His last postseason relief appearance was in Game 2 of the 2019 NLDS against the Dodgers. He logged a scoreless eighth inning with three strikeouts for the Nationals in a 4-2 win at Dodger Stadium.
Scherzer might have pitched his last game as a Dodger if he doesn’t take the mound Thursday. He’s a free agent after the season and, despite his age, he’s expected to be the most coveted pitcher on the market after another Cy Young Award-caliber season.
“How he feels matters because he’s still got to be effective,” Roberts said. “So, we’ll have a conversation with him, I’m sure, today, tomorrow, and kind of gauge it. But in no way are we going to press him and put him in a position that we don’t feel comfortable across the board.”
Julio Urías will start Thursday for the Dodgers opposite Giants right-hander Logan Webb. Urías surrendered one run and threw just 72 pitches across five innings in Game 2. Webb tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in his playoff debut in Game 1.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.