Dodgers at Nationals Game 1 Pick, Prediction, Preview
GAME: Los Angeles Dodgers (91-71) at Washington Nationals (95-67)
DATE/TIME: Friday, October 07 – 5:30 PM EST
WHERE: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia
Betting Line: Nationals +126
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Dodgers vs Nationals Preview
About the Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw has started five games since returning from a herniated back in September. While he’s just 1-2 in those starts, he does have a 1.29 ERA with 27 Ks in 28 innings. Prior to his injury, Kershaw was well on-course for another Cy Young, posting a 11-1 record and 1.57 ERA through his first 15 starts. However, this is the playoffs and Kershaw has a 4.59 ERA in 13 career playoff appearances (10 starts).
This year the Dodgers do have an excellent bullpen, one which led the entire MLB in ERA (3.35) in the regular season. Lefties Pedro Baez and Grant Dayton were outstanding against left-handed bats this year, a big factor considering the Nats’ top two batters – Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy – are both lefties.
Furthermore, Kershaw has dominated the Nats throughout his career. Kershaw is 10-2 against Washington with a 2.02 ERA, his third-lowest career ERA against any team with over 10 starts. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball in his lone start against the Nats this season, a 4-1 Dodgers win on June 20. The Dodgers won the season series over Washington, 5-1.
About the Washington Nationals
The Nats have been virtually unbeatable when it’s Max Scherzer’s turn to take the mound. They have won 10 straight Scherzer starts, and are 13-1 in his last 14. Scherzer he lead the majors in strikeouts and WHIP while leading the NL in innings pitched. However, in his last 14 starts he had just a 2.98 ERA.
The Nationals were fourth in the NL in runs during the regular season. However, Bryce Harper has struggled over the last month with a thumb injury, and Daniel Murphy (the NL leader in OPS) has only just returned from a buttocks injury.
The Nationals finished second only to the Dodgers in bullpen ERA, and has a bunch of lefties to throw at LA in the later innings. The Dodgers were horrendous against left-handed pitchers this season, with a triple-slash line of .213/.290/.332.
Dodgers vs Nationals Prediction:
Two of the top pitchers in baseball will go at it Friday. Kershaw has well known problems in the post season with his 4.59 ERA. However, he looked like the old Kershaw down the stretch and that time off may be just what he needs to be the dominating pitcher in the post season. Scherzer has been the Nationals go to guy with the team going 13-1 over his last 14 starts. When I have two top pitchers going at it I like to bet on who ended the season with the better stuff and that is Kershaw. The money has been going his way and I see why.