Washington Nationals: What to takeaway from Dodgers series

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on September 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on September 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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Despite losing two of two of three to the Dodgers, there’s no need to panic about the Washington Nationals going forward

The Washington Nationals chances for home field advantage in the entire playoffs went by the wayside this weekend in their series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite losing the series, the two teams did split the regular season series and there were still some positives to takeaway from these games that can carry into October.

Now, the Nats did hype up this series going in, but it was tough to expect a series win with two starters (Edwin Jackson and A.J. Cole) that are fringe guys to make the postseason roster. Jackson didn’t finish three innings Friday and Cole only went five innings in Saturday’s loss.

To make up for those two losses, Stephen Strasburg pitched a great game last night against one of the best offenses in the league. He went six innings, gave up one run on three hits, struck out eight, and walked three as he continues his dominant second half.

One of the main positives to take away from this weekend was the bullpen, which did not give up a single run over 13.2 innings. That is impressive when you consider that the big three (Brandon Kintzler, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson) only threw four of those innings.

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If you extend that sample size to the series out in California back in June, the Nats relievers didn’t give up a single run to the Dodgers in 20 innings. It is a safe bet no one thought they would read that sentence in the early portion of the season. After the ‘pen was a question mark to start the season, the unit is getting better and better as the days go on.

One of the big moments from last night’s game was Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run home run in the sixth. Zimmerman, who has struggled in the second half,, hit his 11th home run this year with runners in scoring position (leads the team). His clutch hit gave the team the lead and it was good to see him have the back-and-forth with Yasmani Grandal from the dugout.

While Bryce Harper’s October comeback might be the biggest storyline surrounding the offense, the two home runs by Zimmerman could lead to a strong October. If he gets those clutch hits in the postseason, it can lead to a deep run for the Washington Nationals.

If there’s one thing to be very concerned about on the Washington Nationals, it’s the play of Matt Wieters. In his last 59 at-bats, the catcher only has 10 hits and has struck out 18 times.

While Wieters doesn’t have to carry the offense, he still needs to give the team better numbers offensively at that position. But, his 11-pitch at-bat against Hyun-Jin Ryu last night might have helped big time (even if it ended in a strikeout).

In the grand scheme of things, the Nats-Dodgers series didn’t really provide one concrete thing that could carry over to a potential NLCS matchup. Both teams were in different scenarios as Los Angeles is trying to clinch their division while the Nats are aiming to stay healthy.

You could make the argument that the number one takeaway from this weekend is that a Cubs-Nationals NLDS series is almost wrapped up thanks to Chicago sweeping St. Louis over the weekend. The Cubs lead the Brewers by four games in the NL Central. In the end, to be the champ, you have to beat the champ.

Next: Strasburg continues to dominate

While the Washington Nationals didn’t have their best series this weekend, it doesn’t give any indication of how the team will play in October. Now, they have 13 games to get their timing back, stay healthy, and get Harper back before the games count for real again.

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