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MLB-Play offs – NLDS- Nationals at Dodgers preview

Washington vs. Los Angeles (Dodger Stadium)
May 9 – Nationals 6, Dodgers 0 (Under 7)
May 10 – Dodgers 5, Nationals 0 (Under 8 ½)
May 11 – Nationals 5, Dodgers 2 (Push 7)
May 12 – Dodgers 6, Nationals 0 (Under 7 ½)

Los Angeles vs. Washington (Nationals Park)
July 26 – Dodgers 4, Nationals 2 (Under 9 ½)
July 27 – Dodgers 9, Nationals 3 (Over 10 ½)
July 28 – Nationals 11, Dodgers 4 (Over 8 ½)

The Dodgers (106-56) were the class of the National League all season as Los Angeles seeks its third consecutive World Series appearance. Unfortunately, the Dodgers have no championships to speak of in the last two years after losing in seven games to the Astros in 2017 and getting bounced in five games to the Red Sox in 2018.

Los Angeles cruised to its seventh straight NL West title, while winning the most games in franchise history. The next closest team to the Dodgers in the division was Arizona, who still finished 21 games out of first place as nearly half the wins for Los Angeles this season (51) came against NL West foes. The Dodgers actually split their first 16 games of the season, which included suffering a six-game skid in April. However, Los Angeles stood at 60-29 on July 4, going on an incredible 52-21 run following the 8-8 start.

The Dodgers led the National League in runs scored (886), along with 59 home victories. Cody Bellinger put together a great argument for NL MVP this season as the Dodgers’ right fielder knocked out 47 home runs, drove in 115 runs, while batting .305 (all career-highs). First baseman Max Muncy equaled his home run total from 2018 with 35 round-trippers, while setting a career-high in RBI’s with 98. Left fielder Joc Pederson also excelled this season at the plate from a power perspective with 36 home runs and 74 runs batted in.

Three different Dodgers’ pitchers put up at least 14 wins this season, led by three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw’s 16 victories. Los Angeles posted a 13-3 record in Kershaw’s 16 starts at Dodger Stadium this season, while the mark extends to 21-6 since July 2018. Kershaw defeated the Nationals in D.C. as a -185 road favorite in late July, 9-3 by tossing six innings and allowing two runs as Los Angeles owns a 5-1 record in his past six starts against Washington since 2016.

Fellow left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-5, 2.32 ERA) started the season on fire for the Dodgers by winning eight of his first nine decisions. In fact, the Dodgers won 14 of Ryu’s 16 starts between May 7 and August 11, which included an 8-0 mark at Chavez Ravine. Ryu struggled during a three-start stretch in late August by allowing 18 earned runs in 14.2 innings of work, as the Dodgers went 0-3. Ryu shut down the Nationals in two starts this season by giving up one earned run in 14.2 innings, including eight shutout innings in a 6-0 shutout on May 12.

The Nationals (94-69) started the post-Bryce Harper era in a major slump by losing 31 of their first 50 games. Washington was destined for a long season, but the Nationals turned things around by finishing the first half at 28-11 to climb above .500 at the All-Star break. The Nationals won the final eight games of the regular season to clinch home-field advantage in the Wild Card against the Brewers, but it seemed like Washington would be one-and-done.

Milwaukee jumped on Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer for a pair of early home runs to take a 3-1 lead over Washington on Tuesday night. The Nationals’ offense finally got something going in the eighth inning to load the bases on Brewers’ closer Josh Hader with two outs. Juan Soto’s base hit to right field was misplayed by Milwaukee rookie Trent Grisham as three runs scored to give Washington a 4-3 lead and ultimately the victory as -170 home favorites.

Soto and third baseman Anthony Rendon carried the Washington offense this season by combining for 236 RBI’s and 34 home runs apiece. The next highest run producer for the Nationals was center fielder Victor Robles, who drove in 65 runs, but Washington finished with the second-highest run differential in the National League (+149) behind Los Angeles.

Scherzer (11-7, 2.92 ERA) posted 243 strikeouts this season, but did it in the fewest starts of his career (27). The three-time Cy Young winner struggled down the stretch by allowing 15 earned runs in his final four starts, while yielding two home runs in each of his last three appearances. Scherzer shut down the Dodgers in Los Angeles as a short underdog in May by tossing seven innings and yielding two runs in a 5-2 victory.

Stephen Strasburg (18-6, 3.32 ERA) made his first career relief appearance in Tuesday’s Wild Card win by posting three scoreless innings and striking out four. Strasburg put together his best season as a pro with 18 victories and 251 strikeouts, while Washington won 21 of his 33 starts in 2019. In two starts against the Dodgers this season, Strasburg gave up three earned runs in 13 innings, which included an 11-4 home victory in which he struck out nine batters in seven innings.

The Dodgers claimed four of seven matchups this season, as Los Angeles and Washington split a four-game set at Chavez Ravine in May. Three of those games were decided by shutout, including 5-0 and 6-0 wins by the Dodgers, while Patrick Corbin lifted the Nationals to a 6-0 triumph in the opener of that series. L.A. took two of three meetings in Washington in late July, as all seven matchups were decided by two runs or more on the season.

Los Angeles has advanced to the NLCS each of the last three seasons, as the most recent playoff matchup with Washington came in the 2016 NLDS. The Dodgers edged the Nationals in five games, but Los Angeles was bounced in the NLCS by Chicago in six games. Washington has not advanced to the NLCS since moving the franchise from Montreal in 2005, as three of the defeats in the NLDS since 2012 came in five games.

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