Washington Nationals vs. Dodgers Preview (7/19-7/21)
By Ricky Keeler
Tonight, the Washington Nationals begin a three game series against the Dodgers at Nats Park
In their first series after the All-Star Break, the Washington Nationals (56-37) took two out of three games from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Their starting pitchers gave up two runs in the three games, but the Nats lost the final game of the series, 2-1 in 18 innings.
Daniel Murphy had a pinch-hit home run in the ninth on Sunday after missing the first two games of a sore hamstring. Murphy is back in the lineup tonight, but he is playing third base because Anthony Rendon is out with the flu.
Tonight, the Washington Nationals continue their nine game homestand as they begin a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers (52-42). The Dodgers are 5.5 games behind the Giants in the NL West and currently hold the first NL Wild Card spot.
Last month, the Dodgers swept the Nats in a three game series at Dodger Stadium with all three games being decided by three runs or fewer. In the last two games of the series, the Dodgers came back on a Yasmani Grandal eighth inning home run (June 21) and an error by Michael Taylor allowing Yasiel Puig to score the game-winning run (June 22).
Since that series, the Dodgers are 11-9, but they have won four of their last six games. Their shortstop, Corey Seager, leads the team in batting average (.301) and home runs (17). There are two players in the Dodgers lineup who have more than one home run this month. Those two are Grandal (.353, five home runs, eight RBI’s in 11 games) and third baseman Justin Turner (.300, four home runs, 11 RBI’s, in 13 games).
The problem for Dave Roberts’ squad has been finding healthy starting pitching. Currently, four starters are on the disabled list, including ace Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw hasn’t pitched since June 26 because of a back injury and he’s not due to come back anytime soon:
Despite those injuries, the Dodgers have a 3.51 team ERA in July, which is the sixth lowest in the National League. In their bullpen, they have closer Kenley Jansen, who is 27-for-31 in saves to go with a 1.36 ERA.
Before this series starts tonight, check out my breakdown of the three pitching matchups in this series:
Next: Tonight's Matchup