Washington Nationals: What To Watch For In Game 3 Of NLDS

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June 21, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a solo home run in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
June 21, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a solo home run in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
Sep 11, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) reacts after giving up a solo home run to Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph (not shown) during the seventh inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Can The Dodgers Hit Left-Handed Pitching?

It is just two games (a very small sample size), but the Los Angeles Dodgers only have one hit against the Washington Nationals left-handed relievers in this series. This season, the Dodgers had the worst batting average and .OPS of any team in baseball.

This is where Gio Gonzalez needs to have one of his best games of the season. The 31-year-old left-hander had a rough end to his regular season as he pitched to a 7.43 ERA in his final five starts (1-2 record).

The problem for Gonzalez in the second half has been that his fastball was hittable in the second half. According to Brooks Baseball, teams hit .333 against Gonzalez’s fastball with four home runs in the second half (.257 in the first half).

If there’s one thing on Gonzalez’s side going into today, it’s the fact that the Dodgers don’t have much success against him. Gonzalez had the only win by a Washington Nationals against LA in the regular season (July 20). He is 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA in five career starts against LA (2.25 ERA in three starts at Dodger Stadium).

While Yasiel Puig is likely going to be in right field today for the Dodgers, he is only 1-for-11 against Gonzalez in his career. If Gonzalez can stay focused and be consistent, he has the capability to put up a great game here.

However, if Gonzalez struggles, Dusty Baker is going to be quick to take Gonzalez out of the game and bring in a pitcher like Reynaldo Lopez to try to keep the Washington Nationals in the ball game. The spotlight is going to be bright on Gonzalez today and it’s time for him to deliver.

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