Dodgers Open Up Homestand with the Nationals

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Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

After a tough roadtrip, the Dodgers return hope for another potential playoff preview, with a three-game series against the Washington Nationals.

Let’s end the discussion about the roadtrip here. There’s no shame in getting swept by the Pirates, who are one of the best teams in baseball. The Dodgers were competitive for all but like three innings in the series, and a couple calls or bounces go the other way, and the Dodgers could have taken two of three. That’s the stupidity of the game of baseball, which we all love for some reason. The bullpen was laughable and Donnie didn’t really help the cause, but it happens. The important thing is that the Dodgers went on the road 2.5 games up on the Giants, and return home three games up.

This sweep was painful and Sunday was torturous, but Sunday’s loss still counts as one loss right? There’s no bonus points for pretty losses or blowout wins. Remember last September, when the Dodgers beat the Giants 17-0? That also counted as one win. The Giants must not have felt very good after that loss, and we all know how their season ended. Read this post by Jon Weisman, it’ll make you feel a little better.

The weekend is in the past, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it now right? Moving on, it’s tough to expect a lot out of the Dodgers in game one of their series against Washington. Those Sunday night east coast games are brutal for west coast teams traveling back to the west coast. The Dodgers got into LA early this morning, and after a rough defeat in Pittsburgh I’m expecting them to come out flat (reverse-jinx).

They’ll have their work cut out for them with the Nationals. The Dodgers took two of three in Washington right after the all-star break, but they didn’t face Monday night’s starter, Gio Gonzalez. The Nats are also in a bit of a tailspin, moving down to second place in the NL East with a 9-14 record since the all-star break.

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Gonzalez is a tough lefty with an 8-4 record and 3.75 ERA (3.09 FIP) on the year. This year, he has his worst ERA, FIP, WHIP, hits/9 and K/9 since 2009, but he’s good at keeping the ball in the ballpark and keeping the ball on the ground. Gio is fourth in the majors in ground-ball rate, only behind Tyson Ross, Dallas Keuchel and the Dodgers’ Monday night starter, Brett Anderson.

Gonzalez has started three games against the Dodgers, and is 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 18 innings. Two of those starts (12 innings) have come at Dodger Stadium, where Gio holds a 3.75 ERA and has only allowed one home run.

The Dodgers will send out Anderson for his 22nd start of the season. He’s only started more than 20 games once in his career, and he’s been a great signing for the Dodgers thus far. He came into the season as the fifth starter, ended up being the third starter after injuries to Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy, and now is back to the fifth starter role. He owns a 3.09 ERA (3.61 FIP) and currently has the highest ground-ball rate and lowest line-drive rate of his career. He’s been a little more prone to the longball than he usually is, so hopefully that evens out down the stretch. Regardless of what happens throughout the rest of the season with Anderson, he was well worth the 1-year, $10 million contract he signed in the offseason. Could you imagine where the Dodgers’ rotation would be without him?

In my opinion, the biggest loss of the weekend came when Howie Kendrick came up lame after legging out an infield single. It’s safe to assume he’s been placed on the DL, as he isn’t listed on the lineup cards according to multiple Dodger beat writers, and Jose Peraza has been called up.

The all-righty thing is something that the Dodgers have done a few times this year. It looks a little better with Enrique Hernandez and his 139 wRC+ in the lineup rather than Chris Heisey.

Peraza will be making his MLB debut Monday night. Peraza, the 29th ranked prospect on MLB.com, is a +speed and +defense guy with questionable hitting tools, but posted a .385/.415/.590 slash line in 10 games since joining the Dodgers organization. Overall in 2015, Peraza is slashing .302/.327/.398 with four homers and 27 stolen bases (caught seven times). Having not seen him play outside of short clips on Twitter, he reminds me a lot of Dee Gordon. Fast guy, not a great OBP guy (only 17 walks in 469 plate appearances) that should still be able to cause teams nightmares any time he gets on base. Since the Dodgers called him up, I would expect him to get the majority of starts at second. No point in calling up a top prospect to not let them play.

Unfortunately, the Dodgers still have the same seven reliever listed on the lineup card. Yes, that includes Joel Peralta and Jim Johnson. I’m definitely not writing off Johnson yet, but I think the Peralta experiment should probably come to an end.

Carlos Frias was placed back on the DL after experiencing tightness in his back during his rehab assignment.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM and the game will be shown on Sportsnet LA.

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