Will Dodgers’ hitters be overmatched in series with Nats?
Can LA Bully the Pen?
Even if you accept that the offense will struggle against Corbin and the other aces in D.C., you cannot be unhappy about the bullpen matchup, especially because the Dodgers have rocked in the late innings this season.
The Dodgers have the third-most runs scored and home runs, and the sixth most doubles and walks, and the tenth-best batting average from the sixth inning on this season. They hit bullpens well.
And, believe it or not, they hit them even better on the road. Despite all of the acclaim for walk-offs, the Dodgers have a .788 OPS and a 110 wRC+ after the sixth inning at home, neither of which are favorable league-wide. On the road, the team’s OPS leaps up to .824 with a 112 wRC+, both good for second in all of baseball.
This all points to good news for the Dodgers, especially when on the road. Winning on the road can really turn a series in a completely one-sided direction. The Nationals bullpen is not likely to put up much resistance either.
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As a team, the Nats bullpen is 20th in K/9 and BB/9, with the worst strand rate in all of baseball. To use more traditional measures, they have the least strikeouts in the MLB, an ERA that is second worst in baseball that is approaching 6.00, and have a worse batting average against than only the Royals and Orioles.
Have they been better since the deadline acquisition of Daniel Hudson though? Yes. Has it helped them crawl out of the cellar? Not really.
The team’s bullpen still has the sixth-worst ERA (5.16) to go along with pedestrian strikeout and walk numbers. They’re simply not a deep bullpen, though the front office is not at fault for trying, as they’ve been wheeling and dealing for almost the entire calendar year to try and improve this sector of the team.
The saving grace of the bullpen is that they don’t usually have to pitch much, something which would go against traditional postseason trends that have been set in recent years. They have the least innings in all of baseball this season, which shows manager Dave Martinez’s hesitation to go to them, but also his trust in his starters and the skill of his starters.
Even if the bullpen is a weak link in an otherwise strong chain, it is surely the smallest link as well, something that fans and players alike should not rely upon as the way to beat the Nationals.
Only time will tell, but this series should produce some low scoring early innings with late drama, and I for one am ready to see how it all unfolds.