Los Angeles management did not announce Kershaw’s start until Thursday, seemingly taking every angle of strategy into consideration before their final decision. Many analysts believed the Dodgers would turn to Hyun-Jin Ryu for the second game at home, where the lefty’s splits were significant. At home, Ryu tallied a 10-1 record with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.943 WHIP with a 9.1 K/9. On the road, he posted a 4-4 record with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.075 WHIP alongside a 7.0 K/9.
Nevertheless, Ryu has made two career starts at Nationals Park and has only surrendered one earned run over 11-1/3 innings pitched. Another factor that may have played in the club’s decision to throw Kershaw in Game 2 is that the earlier start allows him to appear as a reliever in the later games, if needed.
Despite all that, Kersh will certainly have his work cut out for him, as Washington hit left-handed pitchers much better—an overall .828 OBP—than they did right-handers (.785) during the regular season.
Kershaw faced the Nationals once this year on the road, when his squad cruised to a 9-3 victory on July 27. CK threw six full innings, surrendering two earned runs on three hits and three walks while striking out nine. That particular contest was also the game when catcher Will Smith—not long after being promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City—went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a homer and six RBI against Washington’s pitching trio of Matt Grace, Joe Ross and Javy Guerra.
Over his 12-year big league career, Kershaw has made 16 starts against the Nationals, posting a 12-3 record with a 2.23 ERA with 126 strikeouts over an even 109 innings.
With players like Joc Pederson and Gavin Lux back in the lineup, fans could presume that a show of offensive fireworks would be on-hand in Friday’s Game 2. However, the Nats are retaliating with a bit of their own firepower in righty Stephen Strasburg.
The good news is that Strasburg has a career 3-5 record against the Dodgers in 11 career starts. The bad news is that over four career playoff appearances—three pof which were starts—Strasburg has a stellar 0.41 ERA over 22 innings with 28 strikeouts.
The last time Strasburg pitched against the Dodgers was on May 12 in Los Angeles. He suffered the loss after surrendering two earned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out seven. Conversely, Ryu picked up the win that day after throwing eight full scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
First pitch for Friday night’s Game 2 is scheduled for 6:37 PM Los Angeles time.