Is it closing time for the Phillies?
Thanks to their heart-stopping walk-off victory over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, the Phillies carry a 3-1 lead into Wednesday's Game 5, set for 8:07 p.m. ET on TBS.
On the precipice of getting the opportunity to defend their World Series title, the Phillies have done more than collect the walk-off hits that have earned so much attention.
The Phils sport a shiny 2.92 ERA through eight postseason games, as their rotation and bullpen have been vital to their success.
And to think that it was supposed to be the Dodgers bullpen stealing the show in the NLCS.
Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who struggled throughout the regular season, has been practically unhittable in the postseason, tossing three shutout innings with three saves in four games.
"It's a different situation," Philadelphia center fielder Shane Victorino said of the playoffs. "I'm not saying that you just flip a switch and I'll do better in the postseason, but I think preparing differently, being in the position we were in last year, helps the bullpen's confidence."
The Dodgers haven't fared nearly as well. Jonathan Broxton, the losing pitcher in Game 4, has a 6.00 ERA in three NLCS appearances. George Sherrill, another late-inning option out of the bullpen, has a 16.20 ERA in two appearances while trying to fix a mechanical flaw in his delivery.
"It's coming," Sherrill said of his mechanics, "but we're running out of time."
Indeed, and only time will tell if a Game 6 is in the cards.
In the meantime, the following chart indicates how experts from MLB.com and MLB Network see Game 5 of the NLCS shaking out.
NLCS Game 5 Predictions
|MLB.com||LAD||2||4||0||Hamels, Phils move on to Fall Classic.|
|MLB.com||LAD||3||8||1`||Hamels outduels Padilla; Howard hits game-winning homer. |
|MLBN||LAD||4||9||1||Philly 'pen proves vital in clinching win.|
|MLBN||LAD||1||7||0||Hamels comes up huge as Phils return to World Series.|
|MLB.com||LAD||7||9||0||No more Padilla magic, but Martin's blast takes series back to L.A.|
|MLB.com||LAD||2||8||0||Hamels delivers strong outing to finish off Dodgers.|
|MLBN||LAD||7||7||0||Padilla shines in return to Philly.|