Both of these teams finished in the top five in the National League in starter’s ERA. The Washington Nationals were second in the NL (3.60) while the Dodgers were fifth (3.95). game one is going to be must-see TV on Friday when Clayton Kershaw goes up against Max Scherzer in a battle of aces.
When you look at the Dodgers season, it’s impressive their starters ranked that high in the NL when Kershaw was out for an extended period of time during the year with a back injury. Kershaw lost Saturday against the Giants, but he had a 1.29 ERA in his five starts since returning to the rotation.
As for Scherzer, he is one of the frontrunners for the Cy Young award. He was the only National League pitcher to finish with 20 wins and his 284 strikeouts were the most in the NL. The Nats brought Scherzer in to pitch in these big games in the postseason (4-3, 3.73 ERA in 12 career playoff games).
Throughout the rest of this series, there are some interesting projected pitching matchups. It looks like it’s going to be Rich Hill against Tanner Roark in game two and Kenta Maeda against Gio Gonzalez in game three.
Hill had a 1.83 ERA in seven starts with Los Angeles, but that blister situation he’s had will continue to be a factor. Roark finished the season with 16 wins, 210 innings pitched, and a 2.80 ERA over his final 15 starts.
Another pitcher who won 16 games this season is rookie right-hander Kenta Maeda. The 28-year-old hasn’t faced the Nats yet and he had a 4.25 ERA in his final 14 starts. If there is an X-factor on the pitching side, it’s Gonzalez. The Dodgers do struggle against lefties, but no one knows which Gonzalez will show up in this game.
Advantage: For me, the Dodgers get the edge in the battle of the rotations. While both of these teams have strong pitchers at the top, I like Maeda a little more than Gonzalez because of the unfamiliarity. Now, if Stephen Strasburg were in the Nats rotation, this would have been completely different.