Nationals vs. Dodgers Series Preview, Plus Other News and Notes

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The Dodgers are looking good, finally. They scored 37 runs in their four-game winning streak, sweeping the San Diego Padres in the process. They are now 8-9 on the season, matching their record at this point last season.

But beating up on the hapless Padres is one thing. Starting on Friday evening, the Washington Nationals come to town. While the Nats are currently in fourth in the NL East with a 9-10 record, they will be rolling out one of the best pitching staffs in the majors to face the Dodgers.

Friday night will feature Clayton Kershaw facing off against Max Scherzer. Rich Hill was slated to start the opener, but was placed on the 10-Day DL Wednesday with inflammation of his left third finger. Per Dodger Insider, it’s the first regular season start between the three-time Cy Young winners in a decade, and the first matchup since the 2016 NLDS. It will also be the 13th all time between three-time Cy Young winners, the latest being between Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux in July of 2006.

Scherzer is having another Cy Young caliber year. He’s 3-1, with a 1.33 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP, having struck out 38 while only scattering 14 hits over 27 innings. Max has allowed two homers and seven runs. When a hot offense runs up against a pitcher who doesn’t allow many runs, something’s got to give.

“Hitting is contagious,” Corey Seager told reporters after the game Wednesday night. “We’re starting to play more like us”. Let’s hope that trend continues against the Nats.

Saturday will see Hyun-Jin Ryu start against Stephen Strasburg. Ryu is coming off a pretty good start against the Padres, where he allowed two runs in six innings, and had nine strikeouts with only one walk. Strasburg is 2-1 with a 3.08 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. Sunday will be Alex Wood going up against Jeremy Hellickson. Wood is also coming off a pretty good start, going 5-1/3 innings, allowing one run and seven strikeouts. Hellickson is 0-0 on the season with a 3.86 ERA in 4.2 innings pitched.

One of the biggest tests will be the Dodgers pitching staff against Bryce Harper. The soon-to-be free agent has been red hot to start the season, with eight home runs already. The one flaw Kershaw has had lately is surrendering the long ball. If he can face Harper with the bases empty, the Dodgers could be in business. Per Joe Davis, Harper is 2-for-23 with 14 strikeouts in his career against Kershaw. Since Harper’s debut, Kershaw has faced the Nationals nine times, is 9-0 with a 0.92 ERA in those games. Friday night should be a good one.

News and Notes:

Max Muncy is quickly becoming a cult favorite among fans. The recent call-up hit his first home run as a Dodger Wednesday night, and made a stellar play at third. He will be starting Friday night against the Nationals, setting up a Max vs. Max showdown.

Yasmani Grandal is quietly having building a successful month amidst an eight-game hitting streak. It was revealed earlier this week that Yaz had been frequently returning to Arizona last season to visit his wife, who was dealing with a high-risk pregnancy. Now that his wife and son are both happy and healthy, the catcher is back feeling himself at the plate. He’s slashing .352/.435/.611/.1.047 with three homers and five doubles.

– Grandal is so hot that he’s currently tied for second in the NL batting leaderboard. Matt Kemp is fifth, slashing .347/.389/.592/.981. Just like we all predicted before the season started.

– But maybe the best thing about the season so far is the unlikely friendship between Yasiel Puig and Hyun-Jin Ryu. They seemingly don’t speak a common language, but are often seen joking and paling around in the dugout. It is exactly what we all deserve.

 

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