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

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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Dodgers’ Offense Finally Stepping Up, Despite All the Overthinking

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The Dodgers may have recently started to turn a corner, at least in the offense department. Time will tell if they can actually keep it up. The last two pitching performances by Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu have been pretty darn good, too. If Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood can both have good starts after their previous outings which were atrocious, we might be able to see that the Dodgers are indeed finally on an upswing.

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Dodgers Need a Shake-Up Heading into Diamondbacks Series

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Nothing seems to be coming easy early in the Dodgers‘ 2018 season. It currently feels like the team is stuck in a two steps forward, one step back rut. After a nice little two game winning streak where it felt like maybe things were turning around, the Dodgers got drubbed by the Oakland A’s Wednesday night, 16-6.

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Dodgers Roster: What Does the Offense Need to Improve?

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(Mandatory Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

If you’ve been a long time reader of this column or a follower of mine on Twitter, you know that I always do my best not to overreact to the ups and downs of a long baseball season. Admittedly, sometimes this is much harder than other times. The beginning of this season has definitely been a challenge. Still, I am not overly worried overall about the state of the Dodgers.

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Dodgers Hope to Use Day(s) Off to Set Things Right

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(Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

One week into the Dodgers‘ 2018 season and a lot of fans are letting the negative thoughts run in their heads. It’s not the optimal start to the season we were all hoping for, but it’s still not time to panic.

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Dodgers Weekend Roundup: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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The Dodgers started the 2018 season in record-breaking fashion. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was good, though. The Dodgers are the first team in MLB history to allow only two runs in an opening four game series. Still, they only managed to split the series with their rival San Francisco Giants.

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Dodgers Fall to Giants in 2018 Home Opener

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Opening Day did not end the way Dodgers fans would have like it to. In the first game of the year against the rival San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers bat were relatively silent all afternoon, as the club could not muster a single run.

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Dodgers Set Opening Day 25-Man Roster, Unofficially

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The 2018 Opening Day 25-man roster for the Dodgers is unofficially set.

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Exorcising Your Dodger Demons, Plus TBPC’s First Fan Giveaway of 2018

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If you’re one of the millions of people enjoying the show This Is Us, you’ll know that Randall and his wife Beth do a thing before a big event called “Worst Case Scenario.” They vocalize the worst things that could happen, in thought that they could prepare themselves for such an instance. Today, the day before Opening Day, we are going to do that. Vocalize our worst fears, in anticipation of them happening and setting ourselves up to deal, or, more likely, them not happening and our worse fears never being realized.

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Kiké Hernandez Looking to Build on Stellar Cactus League Play

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(USA TODAY Sports photo)

With all the depth that the Dodgers have on their roster and in their farm system, it’s fitting that they have a player that encompasses all of that himself—self-described super-utility player Enrique Hernandez.

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