Dodgers Nationals Game One Preview

The Dodgers welcome the Nationals to LA with a good old fashioned ace-off.

The Dodgers had a bit of trouble with the Milwaukee Brewers, but they took three of four and kept pace with the first place Giants. The Dodgers could win three out of every four games they play from here on out, but if the Giants never lose again it won’t matter. They’ve won eight straight games for the second time this season and are chasing the Cubs for the best record in baseball. I might have underestimated the power of the even year.

All the Dodgers can hope to do is handle their own business, and they have a tough job for the next few days as the Washington Nationals come to town. The Nats lost the final two games in San Diego, so they’re definitely not perfect, but they have a 5.5 game lead in the NL East and have done it despite Bryce Harper not getting any pitches to hit ever.

Tonight is the main event of the series, as it pits two of the best pitchers in the NL against each other. Clayton Kershaw gets the ball for the Dodgers, and he’s somehow making his last four seasons look pedestrian. Pretty much the only number you need to know is 133 strikeouts and seven walks in 14 starts. Kershaw has reached double digit strikeouts in nine of his 14 starts and has yet to walk multiple batters in the same game.

Stephen Strasburg starts for the Nats tonight. He’s 10-0 this season and the Nationals are 13-1 when he starts (same as the Dodgers when Kershaw starts). Strasburg has 118 strikeouts and 24 walks this season, which in a normal year would be incredible, but next to Kershaw that looks less impressive. He’s surprisingly only had one scoreless outing this season, but he’s only given up more than three runs in two starts so far. He’s struck out double digit batters in seven of his 14 starts, but he’s a bit more prone to walking batters.

Despite being eligible to come off the DL today, Yasiel Puig is still missing from the lineup and as of publishing, hasn’t been activated. Trayce Thompson has filled in more-than admirably, but a Puig/Thompson/Joc Pederson outfield would be ideal, at least defensively.

Yasmani Grandal catches Kershaw for the fifth time this season. Remarkably, Kershaw has a 19.00 K/BB rate throwing to Grandal (38 K/2 BB) and A.J. Ellis (95 K/5 BB). Lord is that guy consistent.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM PST and will be shown on ESPN (no blackouts).