Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats Vs. Dodgers (7/17-7/19)

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Jul 10, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson (31) hits a one run RBI double against the Milwaukee Brewers during the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

After four days off, the Washington Nationals (48-39) will get the second half of their season started tonight when they begin a three game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers (51-39). Before the All-Star Break, the Nats took on their Beltway rivals, the Baltimore Orioles, and took two out of three.

However, the second half will not be easy for the Nats. Right out of the get go, they will face five very good pitchers over the next six games. They will get the Mets’ top three starters (Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard) next week, but first, let’s talk about Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and the Dodgers.


Before the All-Star Break, Don Mattingly’s club went 7-4 in their first 11 games of July. Right now, they hold a 4.5 game lead on the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. The strength of this Dodgers’ team is with their top two aces in the rotation, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke (who will start the final two games in this series).

However, Kershaw and Greinke have had to carry a rotation that has had its fair share of injuries. Hyun-Jin Ryu has been out since April due to shoulder surgery and Brandon McCarthy had Tommy John surgery. With a combination of Mike Bolsinger, Brett Anderson, and now Brandon Beachy behind their two aces, LA’s starters’ ERA is 3.19, which is third in the National League.

On offense, the Dodgers are fourth in the NL in runs scored (Nationals are fifth) and they have hit the most home runs in the NL (113). Their leading home run hitter is rookie centerfielder Joc Pederson. Pederson, who was the runner up in Monday’s Home Run Derby, is hitting .230 with 20 home runs, 40 RBI’s, and a .364 on-base percentage.

Two other offensive players to watch are second baseman Howie Kendrick (who leads the team in hits) and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez is hitting .283 with 18 home runs and 55 RBI’s. He is only hitting .194 in the month of July, but five of his seven hits being home runs.

As for LA’s bullpen, they have a 3.56 ERA, which is ninth in the NL. Closer Kenley Jansen is 16-for-17 in save chances and has a 1.66 ERA, but it’s the eighth inning that has given LA fits. The Dodgers have a 3.68 ERA in the seventh inning or later and have given up the sixth most runs in the NL during those latter three innings.

Before tonight’s series gets underway, let’s take a look at who has the edge in these three pitching matchups:

Next: Tonight's Matchup