Dodgers Pitchers vs. Nats Hitting
The Dodgers have a solid starting rotation. Hyun-Jin Ryu’s 2.32 ERA leads the major leagues, and the team’s overall 3.11 starter ERA leads the major leagues (the Nationals are in second in the MLB with a 3.53 starter ERA).
Against the Nationals (or Brewers), Dodgers will feature a sequence of Ryu, three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, and emerging ace Walker Buehler. Combined, the three make up a balanced and formidable trio, and likely complement each other better than any other trio in the playoffs. Which other team has two lefties who could win the Cy Young this season to go along with a 98mph fastball coming from the right side?
Surely not the Nationals, or any team the Nationals have faced this season for that matter. So how will Washington match up? Can Rendon, Soto, and the rest keep up with Buehler’s heat, and track the offspeed stuff of Kersh and Ryu? Can the Dodgers pitchers handle all the power in the Nats’ top-heavy lineup?
That’s what I wanted to examine.
I began by selecting Ryu, Kershaw, and Buehler, and saw how they did in their outings against the Nationals this season.
The lefties did well.
Ryu held the Nats to a .185 batting average against with just two extra-base hits against (both doubles), striking out 13 and walking two in the 54 at-bats they had against him. Kershaw held Washington to a .150 batting average against, though in 34 fewer at-bats than Ryu, while striking out nine and walking three.
Buehler is the only member of the big three to allow a home run and is the only one to allow a batting average against over .200. The Vandy Boy allowed a .245 batting average against, four overall extra-base hits, and four walks, though he did punchout 14 in 49 at-bats.
How did the Nationals stars hit the Dodgers overall? Rendon hit .280 without a home run, doubling and striking out three times each. Soto hit a home run and walked four times, but only hit .188.
But more important than the small sample sizes of these two sluggers is how the team hit left-handed starters on the season as a whole, especially after June 29, when they boosted their record into the playoff conversation.
On the season, the Nationals have the best batting average against lefties in the NL, with a .283 mark that is good for third in the MLB (which has been bolstered in part by former Dodger Howie Kendrick’s hot second half), and while they are 20th in overall home runs, they are seventh overall in slugging percentage and third in SLG in the NL.
Since June 29, our arbitrary cut off date for the Nationals getting hot, the Nats actually got a little worse in the power categories, dropping to 26th in overall home runs and to ninth in SLG, while maintaining their .283 average, third-best in the MLB in that span.
While the Nats and their stars have not hit the Dodgers top starters exceedingly well, they have hit lefties decently, something that could affect the Dodgers and their lefty-laden bullpen and starting rotation, which besides the aforementioned aces will likely feature Rich Hill, Caleb Ferguson, Adam Kolarek, and Julio Urias.