The one divisional series in the National League that sets a couple of division victors in opposition to each other is set to start play on Friday evening, when the Los Angeles Dodgers face the Washington Nationals in our country’s capital.
We’ve already taken a look at the series as a whole, but what about a quick Game 1 pitching preview? I promise it’ll be fun because it’s these two guys.
Yeah, fun. Let’s dive in.
Max Scherzer (20-7, 2.96) vs. Dodgers
Scherzer is one of the NL Cy Young front-runners and has the potential on any given day to be the most dominant pitcher in baseball. When he’s truly on, he takes no-hitters or even perfect games into the middle innings and gets so intense he seems to almost run back to the top of the mound for the next nasty offering. His year-long numbers bear it out, as he led the NL in wins, innings (228 1/3), strikeouts (284, which led the majors), WHIP (0.968, which led the majors) and K/BB ratio (5.07).
Of course, he can be had. He allowed an NL-high 31 home runs and coughed up at least five runs in a game five times, with the Nationals going 1-4 in those games.
At home this season, Scherzer has a 2.56 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 134 strikeouts in 102 innings. He’s better at home across the board, even if it’s not a drastic difference.
He did not face the Dodgers this season, and many of the Dodgers are unfamiliar with him. Only four players have seen him at least 15 times.
Adrian Gonzalez: .192/.250/.231 in 28 plate appearances
Andre Ethier: .333/.385/.542 in 26 PA
Josh Reddick: .294/.294/.412 in 17 PA
Howie Kendrick: .357/.400/.429 in 15 PA
This is too small a sample size to ultimately matter, but some might find it interesting: Yasiel Puig is 2 for 6 with a triple and double.
In Scherzer’s career, he’s appeared in 12 postseason games, going 4-3 with a 3.73 ERA.
Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69) vs. Nationals
The best pitcher in the world was cruising to his fourth Cy Young in the last six seasons when a back injury derailed him for a few months. He still led the majors with three shutouts despite only making 21 starts. Some of his stats are laughable, such as his 0.73 WHIP or 172 strikeouts against only 11 walks in 149 innings (15.64 K/BB!).
Needless to say, he’s tough on everyone, but particularly tough on lefties with that absurd wipeout curveball. Lefties were reduced to looking like pitchers against him this season, hitting .138/.150/.159. In a lineup with stud lefties Bryce Harper and (maybe, if he can play through the buttocks injury) Daniel Murphy, that matters.
Want a silver lining, Nats fans? Kershaw’s worse on the road. His home ERA is 1.08 and it skyrockets all the way up to a whopping 2.31 on the road this season.
The Nationals did see Kershaw once this season, back on June 20, and he allowed only one run on six hits through seven innings, striking out and eight and walking none en route to a Dodgers win.
In terms of career history, several Nationals have seen a bit of Kershaw. Jayson Werth (.286/.359/.457 with two home runs in 39 PA), Ryan Zimmerman (.318/.333/.364), Daniel Murphy (.316/.316/.632 with two home runs in 19 PA) and Anthony Rendon (.313, though no walks or extra-base hits) have done OK to good.
Danny Espinosa (.118/.118/.176) and Bryce Harper (1 for 15 with 10 strikeouts and zero walks) have not.
The spotlight here will be on Kershaw’s postseason resume, as he is 2-6 with a 4.59 ERA in his career in the playoffs.
Baseball fans who enjoyed the NL Wild Card Game will love this one because it’s going to be low scoring and move quickly. One or two runs will probably do it. Let’s brace ourselves for pitching porn. NEWS CBS