One day after the Dodgers used a late-inning, nine-run explosion to defeat the Nationals in Game 3, they find themselves in a position to clinch the series in Game 4 on Monday.
Scherzer threw out of the bullpen in Washington’s victory at Los Angeles in Game 2 on Friday, but he should be fresh for his start. In his one full inning of relief, he struck out the entire Dodgers side using just 14 pitches.
Much like his nemesis Clayton Kershaw, the 35-year-old Scherzer has a bit of a monkey on his back when it comes to postseason pitching. Over his playoff career, the 12-year big league vet has made 18 appearances—14 of which were starts—with a 4-5 record and a not-so-impressive 3.78 ERA.
Lifetime against the Dodgers, Scherzer is 5-4 with a 2.76 ERA and 92 punchouts over 81-2/3 innings pitched. In his most recent start against Los Angeles on May 11 of this year at Dodger Stadium, he threw seven full innings and collected the win, surrendering two earned runs on five hits and two walks.
Apparently, there are no limits on Scherzer’s pitch count.
“I don’t even know what the number is,” Scherzer said on Sunday. “That’s kind of out the door.”
The Dodgers counter with lefty Rich Hill, who has overcome a severe forearm strain and most recently an MCL sprain to make an improbable return to the bump. The veteran lefty has made just 14 starts on the season, but hasn’t lasted more than six innings since June 14 against the Cubs at home.
His last appearance came against the Giants on the road in the team’s regular-season finale when he threw three full innings, allowing no runs on one hit and two walks while striking out four.
Skipper Dave Roberts told reporters on Sunday that he expects Hill to throw somewhere around four innings and 60 pitches in Monday’s Game 4.
“We’re prepared; Rich is prepared,” Roberts told reporters.
Over his 15-year career, Hill has faced the Nationals seven times, five of which were starts. In those games, he has a 2-2 record with a 4.08 ERA alongside 29 strikeouts over 28-2/3 innings. During that time, he has surrendered five long balls and has allowed 10 walks.
Hill took the loss in his last start against the Nationals on May 9 of this year at Dodger Stadium when he threw five full innings. He gave up three earned runs on two walks and five hits—the most damaging being a three-run homer to Howie Kendrick.
One particular player to keep an eye on Monday is veteran infielder Ryan Zimmerman, who has gone 6-for-11 with two homers and a double lifetime against Hill.
Conversely, the Dodgers could consider starting rookie Matt Beaty in left field in place of the struggling A.J. Pollock. So far in the NLDS, Pollock has gone 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts. In his career against Scherzer, he is 2-for-12.
First pitch for Monday’s contest is 6:40 PM Eastern time.