MLB Playoffs 2019: Live-Stream Schedule, Bracket Predictions for NLDS Finales

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistOctober 9, 2019

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler reacts after striking out Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon to end the top of the first inning of Game 1 in baseball's National League Divisional Series on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Walker Buehler and Stephen Strasburg need a second dominant postseason performance on Wednesday to keep their respective teams alive in the MLB playoffs. 

Buehler pitched the Los Angeles Dodgers to an early National League Division Series lead in Game 1, and Strasburg helped the Washington Nationals level the series in Game 2. 

Since the series shifted from L.A. to D.C., the Dodgers and Nationals have combined for 21 runs, but a low total is expected with the pair of double-digit game winners on the hill at Dodger Stadium

Wednesday's first NLDS finale could also be a pitchers' duel, as Atlanta's Mike Foltynewicz and St. Louis' Jack Flaherty face off for a second time.

               

Wednesday NLDS Schedule

Game 5: No. 3 St. Louis at No. 2 Atlanta (5:02 p.m. ET, TBS) 

Game 5: No. 4 Washington at No. 1 Los Angeles (8:37 p.m. ET, TBS) 

Games can be live-streamed on TBS.com or TBS app. 

                      

Predictions

Los Angeles 3, Washington 1

In Game 1, Buehler shut down the Nationals by striking out eight and giving up one hit in six shutout frames. 

In his last three postseason appearances, the right-hander allowed a single earned run over 17.2 innings. Buehler won Game 7 of the 2018 NLCS, so he is used to the pressure, per USA Today's Steve Gardner. 

"I guess this will be my third of those scenarios, so (it's) something I'm familiar with," Buehler said. "Getting to do it at home certainly helps, and there's not a lot to it. We got to win a game, and if we don't, we go home."

The 25-year-old went 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA in 14 regular-season starts at home, and he conceded two runs or fewer in eight of those appearances. 

Strasburg is 2-0 with 14 strikeouts in his pair of 2019 playoff appearances. In Game 2, he fanned 10 batters over six innings while giving up three hits and a run. 

The 2009 No. 1 overall pick became the first player to have three 10-strikeout performances in his first five playoff starts, per ESPN Stats & Info

If the starters are locked in a battle, the series could come down to the bullpens. 

In the Dodgers' two wins, their relievers gave up three hits. Joe Kelly was the only one to be tagged for runs. He showed improvement from Game 1 to Game 3 by finishing the victory with a scoreless frame. 

A combination of Kelly, Kenta Maeda, Adam Kolarek, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen should shut down the Nationals in relief of Buehler. 

In the two contests at Dodger Stadium, the Washington reliever directly following the starter gave up three earned runs. 

If the home side can put Strasburg under pressure and then capitalize on the visiting bullpen, it could make the difference Wednesday. 

Los Angeles has scored 11 runs in the sixth inning or later, and if that trend continues against Sean Doolittle, Fernando Rodney or the other Nationals relievers, it should move on to the National League Championship Series. 

                    

St. Louis 4, Atlanta 2

In their last meeting at SunTrust Park, Flaherty and Foltynewicz combined for 15 strikeouts in their seven-inning stints.

The difference was the three earned runs conceded by the St. Louis hurler. The 23-year-old is excited for his second chance at the Braves on Wednesday, per Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 

"It's just one of those things you kind of look for. And you've got to be excited about it. Come on. You got Game 5. Win or go home? What's not to be excited about?" Flaherty said. 

After four matchups, Foltynewicz has an idea of what to expect from the St. Louis lineup, per MLB.com's Mark Bowman and Adam Berry.

Foltynewicz shares the same feelings, and he feels confident due to the amount of times the Braves have faced the St. Louis hitters. 

"We've seen these guys plenty of times now," Foltynewicz said. "They've seen me. Kind of just like a chess game a little bit. Just gotta go out there and really just focus and execute."

Flaherty produced a solid showing Friday, but he was just outdueled by his counterpart. If he puts together a similar outing, the Cardinals could be in a good spot to pounce. 

In Game 4, the Cardinals jumped out to a two-run lead through home runs from Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna, who have been two of the best hitters in the series.

St. Louis' pair of sluggers went 15-for-33 with seven doubles and four home runs in the first four games. 

Additionally, the Cardinals scored an early run in Game 3 before Mike Soroka settled into a rhythm.

Mike Shildt's team needs that same production, plus a few more runs, to put the home side under pressure in the first third of the contest.

If Flaherty goes six or seven frames, the St. Louis bullpen could shut down the Braves. Besides Carlos Martinez, Cardinals relievers have given up one earned run in 8.1 innings. Even Martinez, who struggled early in the series, produced a scoreless inning in Game 4.

Atlanta has four pitchers with a postseason ERA of 4.50 or higher, and in Game 4, Shane Greene and Julio Teheran failed to close out a one-run advantage. 

If St. Louis can back up Flaherty with early run support and get two or three strong innings from the bullpen, it could be one step away from its first World Series since 2013.

             

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference

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