September 20, 2019

Washington Nationals Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

After the four-day All Star break, the Washington Nationals (48-39) hit the ground running in the second half. Thirteen of their next sixteen games are against contenders in the National League — the first place Los Angeles Dodgers, the second place Pittsburgh Pirates, and two series against the New York Mets, who finished the first half on a four-game winning streak and trail the Nats by just two games in the National League East.

The Nationals start at home with three games against the Dodgers (51-39), the first time the teams have met this season. The Nationals will make one more trip out west this season — next month — where they will face the Dodgers in Los Angeles. After that they will travel no further west than St. Louis…unless, of course, they face the Dodgers in the post-season, a realistic possibility.

The Last Time…

The Nationals and Dodgers last faced off September in Los Angeles, with the Nationals taking two out of three. Washington also beat the Dodgers two games out of three in Washington last May. The only two Dodgers wins against the Nationals last year came with Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Kershaw gave up just one run in 15 innings against the Nats in 2014. Kershaw starts against the Nationals on Friday night.

In The Other Dugout

The Dodgers are four and a half games in front of the Giants in the National League West, but they are actively searching for another piece, specifically a starting pitcher. When the Nationals head to Los Angeles next month it’s probable there will be another big name pitcher in the Dodgers’ rotation. If you missed Joc Pederson’s show in the Home Run Derby Monday night, enjoy watching him play this weekend in Washington: he’s one of the most exciting young players in the game right now. His power comes in spurts — he had a run where he homered in five straight games in late May/early June. Beware: he’s in a drought right now, not having homered yet in the month of July. The Nationals have to hope the Derby didn’t help him find his power stroke.

Matchups To Watch

There is bad news from the matchup department: The Nationals with the best numbers against Clayton Kershaw are Ryan Zimmerman (.438) and Jayson Werth (.346 with 2 home runs). Of course, the common thread there is that neither one is healthy for this series.

Better news against Zack Greinke? No. Denard Span is 10 for 33 (.303) against Greinke — by far the best numbers for a Washington hitter against the Dodgers’ second ace. Span was placed on the disabled list right before the All Star break.

Probables

Friday, 7:05pm: Mike Bolsinger (4-3, 3.08 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (8-5, 3.22 ERA)

Saturday, 4:05pm: Clayton Kershaw (6-6, 2.85 ERA) vs. Doug Fister (3-4, 4.08 ERA)

Sunday, 1:35pm: Zack Greinke (8-2, 1.39 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (10-7, 2.11 ERA)

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