Get ready for a night of opposites as Max Scherzer and Rich Hill face off in NLDS Game 5
When the Dodgers and Nationals square off tonight in NLDS Game 5, two ace-level hurlers will battle in the winner-take-all matchup. But the two starters couldn't be less similar. You'd never realize it if you just glanced at the numbers, though.
The Nationals go with Max Scherzer -- a favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award -- who is coming off a year where he led the league in innings and strikeouts, posting a 2.96 ERA along the way.
For the Dodgers, it's Rich Hill. While the injury-prone starter missed time with blisters, he posted a 2.12 ERA with the A's and Dodgers and struck out 10.5 batters per nine innings -- just under Scherzer's 11.2 mark.
But while they're both great, the two pitchers go about their work differently. Scherzer is at the peak of his abilities and has thrown two no-hitters and K'd 20 in a game over the last two seasons. It's all thanks to a mid-90s fastball that decimates hitters and was voted as the best fastball by a starting pitcher in our Best Pitch of 2016 bracket.
He can place it away to righties:
And can freeze batters at the knees, too:
Rich Hill is the opposite. At 36-years-old, Hill's career rebounded after Red Sox pitching whisperer Brian Bannister had him stop relying on his low-90s fastball. While he gets above-average spin rate on the pitch, he now pitches off his otherworldly looping curveball. Hill threw his curve 50 percent of the time -- there is no other starter who works primarily off a breaking ball like that.
He can freeze batters on the corners -- they couldn't even imagine a pitch bending enough to drop into the zone:
Or they'll swing at specters of where the curveball once was:
He can also drop his arm down to create a more horizontal plane, giving it less 12-6 break and more sweeping action. All the same, batters are left unsure of how to even respond:
While Hill struggled against the Nationals in Game 2, giving up four runs in only 4 1/3 IP, the Dodgers will load up their lineup with left-handed hitters against Scherzer. Considering that lefties had an OPS nearly 300 points higher than right-handed batters against the Nats' ace, that could be cause for concern.
Who will emerge victorious in Game 5? Tune in to FS1 at 8 p.m. ET to find out.