Washington Nationals: A Look Back At Regular Season Vs. Dodgers
By Ricky Keeler
Before the NLDS begins, we look back at the Washington Nationals regular season matchups against the Dodgers
We are just a few days away from the Washington Nationals beginning their NLDS series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Before that postseason series begins, let’s take a look back at how the Nats did against the Dodgers in the regular season.
Over the last two seasons, the Dodgers are 9-3 against the Washington Nationals, including a 5-1 record in 2016. Despite losing five of the six games in the series, the Nats were only outscored 25-21 and four of the six games ended up being decided by three runs or fewer.
The first series between these two teams took place on June 20-22 when the Dodgers won all three games at Dodger Stadium. That series didn’t start well for the Washington Nationals as Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his start against Clayton Kershaw. While Yusmeiro Petit did enough to keep the Nats in the game, Kershaw gave up one run on six hits and struck out eight over seven innings a win.
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If you look at the last two games of that series, the Nats scored four runs on home runs from Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos, and Danny Espinosa. But, they went 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position in those losses.
In the series finale on June 22, Michael Taylor struck out five times out of the leadoff spot and made the error that allow the final two runs to score in the ninth in the series finale. If you fast forward one month later (July 21), the Nats went 1-for-13 with men in scoring position in a loss to the Dodgers.
As for the Dodgers, they were only 1-for-9 with men in scoring position in that first series. But, that one hit was a big one. On June 21, Yasmani Grandal hit a game-winning three-run home run against Tanner Roark in the bottom of the eighth. In the playoffs, every at-bat with runners in scoring position needs to be capitalized on.
Looking back at that second series (July 19-21), the Washington Nationals had Trea Turner in the lineup. While Turner had three hits in 13 at-bats, two of those hits were triples and he had three RBI’s. Those three RBI’s were tied with Espinosa for second on the team and one behind Harper (two home runs and four RBI’s).
Another difference from those two series for the Nats is that they have a reliable closer now. Mark Melancon is 17-for-18 in saves since joining the Nats. The Washington Nationals didn’t have a save situation in the Nats Park series and Shawn Kelley was the closer at Dodger Stadium and blew the save on June 22 (Jonathan Papelbon was on the disabled list).
On the Dodgers side, 15 of the 23 runs driven in came from three players. Justin Turner had three home runs (two at Nats Park off Stephen Strasburg) and seven RBI’s, Chase Utley had a home run off Reynaldo Lopez on July 19 to go with four RBI’s, and Grandal had a pair of home runs as well.
For Game 1 on Friday, the Washington Nationals will send Max Scherzer to the mound and Scherzer hasn’t faced the Dodgers this season. At least, the Nats can line up their rotation in the NLDS without having to start Lopez, Petit, or Joe Ross (unless there’s a Game 4).
Of course, the Dodgers now add Rich Hill into their rotation in this series. With all the injuries to the Dodgers rotation, the Nats saw Kershaw, Julio Urias (twice), Scott Kazmir (twice), and Bud Norris.
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All in all, there are some takeaways from those six games that can carry over into October. But, at the same time, when the bright lights of the postseason kick in, you never know what can happen.