LOS ANGELES -- After 23 intense games between the Dodgers and Giants this season, it’s fitting that the epic battle between the teams with the two best records in MLB will come down to the third winner-take-all game between the two rivals.
The two previous elimination games were part of a three-game NL tiebreaker series in 1951 and '62. The first meeting happened when both franchises were still based in the Big Apple, with the New York Giants ousting the Brooklyn Dodgers in three games on Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World. The '62 set took place four years after both clubs relocated to the west, with San Francisco emerging victorious.
Both teams have won 109 games this season. The first to 110 will move on to the NL Championship Series to face the Braves.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know heading into Thursday’s elimination game.
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 5 is scheduled to start at 9:07 p.m. ET/6:07 p.m. PT on Thursday at Oracle Park and will be televised on TBS. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
What are the starting lineups?
Dodgers: The biggest surprise is a gameday change of starting pitcher, as Corey Knebel steps in for Julio Urías. The 20-game winner is likely still available for bulk innings, as there has been no word that he's injured, so this appears to be a gambit to counter the Giants potentially front-loading their lineup with right-handed hitters.
Giants: The Dodgers elected to start Knebel to prevent the Giants from once again loading up on right-handed hitters against the southpaw Urías -- who did spin five innings of one-run ball to lead Los Angeles to a 9-2 win at Oracle Park. While they have several hitters who have historically crushed southpaws, assuming Urías sees plenty of action in the game, the Giants have gone 11-11 against left-handed starters since the All-Star break.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Dodgers: Though Knebel -- 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 27 appearances -- got the call as the first pitcher on the mound, Urías (20-3, 2.96 ERA) will likely see the bulk of the innings for Los Angeles tonight. The Mexican-born left-hander allowed one run over five innings in the Dodgers' Game 2 win at Oracle Park. He went 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA against them in five regular-season starts.
Giants: At 24 years and 330 days old, Webb (11-3, 3.03 ERA) will become the youngest pitcher in Giants history to start a winner-take-all postseason game. Webb struck out 10 over 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a masterful performance in Game 1 and will be pitching on five days’ rest. The Giants are undefeated in Webb’s 13 starts at Oracle Park, where he’s gone 7-0 with a 1.78 ERA over his past 14 appearances.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Dodgers: In a winner-take-all game, the Dodgers will have nearly everyone available to pitch. Roberts said he doesn’t think Max Scherzer will be available out of the bullpen, but that could quickly change in a close game.
Giants: The ideal scenario for the Giants would be to lean on Webb to pitch deep into the game before possibly turning it over to Kevin Gausman, who will be available out of the bullpen after starting Game 2. Relief ace Camilo Doval should be ready to take down multiple innings if needed after not pitching in Game 4.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Dodgers: They will all be available and ready to pitch.
Giants: San Francisco used seven relievers to cover 6 1/3 innings following Anthony DeSclafani’s 1 2/3-inning start in Game 4, but manager Gabe Kapler said he expects everyone to be available to pitch in Game 5. Kapler also didn’t rule out using left-hander Alex Wood, who tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 3.
Any injuries of note?
Dodgers: First baseman Max Muncy (dislocated left elbow) and left-hander Clayton Kershaw (left elbow discomfort) are out of the NLDS. Kershaw will miss the remainder of the postseason. The Dodgers are holding out hope Muncy could return later this month, but he has still not taken any swings since getting injured.
Giants: First baseman Brandon Belt (left thumb fracture) and veteran reliever Tony Watson (left shoulder strain) are out for the NLDS. Second baseman Tommy La Stella is also nursing left Achilles tightness, but he isn’t expected to start against Urías on Thursday.
Who is hot and who is not?
Dodgers: Betts is swinging a hot bat, going 7-for-20 with a homer in five postseason games. The star right fielder has an .864 OPS. ... Lux made the most of his opportunity in Game 4, going 2-for-2 with two walks. ... Perhaps no player is performing better than Smith, who hit his second homer of the postseason in Game 4 and leads the team with a 1.206 OPS. ... Justin Turner is 1-for-17 with zero RBIs in four games in this series.
Giants: Bryant is starting to heat up after scuffling at the plate over the final couple weeks of the regular season. He is 6-for-13 with a home run and two RBIs over the first four games of this series and could be a key bat against Urías, given his .910 OPS against lefties this year. ... Mike Yastrzemski is 0-for-12 over the first four games of his first career playoff series. ... With no Brandon Belt at first, Giants first basemen have gone 1-for-14 in the series, with the lone hit coming from Bryant.