LOS ANGELES DODGERS
at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
First pitch: Sunday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
The Dodgers will be hoping to earn a victory over the Nationals in what could be a preview of the postseason for Sunday Night Baseball.
The Dodgers have not played well as of late, but they added enough of a cushion in the middle of the season for that not to matter that much. They are still very likely going to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but these games do matter a bit more for them now. A victory over the Nationals on Sunday would also serve as a morale booster for a team that could certainly use one. As for Washington, this team knows that wins over the Dodgers can at least keep hope alive for home-field advantage. The Dodgers are a bit out in front, but anything can happen and these games directly affect the National League standings. The starters in this Sunday night matchup are going to be LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-7, 3.59 ERA, 109 K) for Los Angeles and RHP Stephen Strasburg (13-4, 2.64 ERA, 182 K) for Washington. Both guys have had impressive seasons, but the edge here easily goes to the Nationals on paper. Strasburg is one of the game’s truly elite pitchers, but that doesn’t mean that Ryu isn’t capable of outdueling him here.
The Dodgers have been up-and-down recently, but they did get themselves going a bit heading into the weekend. They’ll now try to separate themselves from the Nationals for one last time, but they’ll need Ryu to be at his best on the hill on Sunday. He was excellent in his most recent start, allowing just one earned run in six innings of work against the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers ended up losing that game 3-1, but Ryu struck out seven batters and another performance like that would definitely be welcomed by his teammates. It is, however, worth noting that Ryu allowed four earned runs in seven innings of work against the Nationals on Jun. 5. While Los Angeles was happy to have Ryu go seven innings in that game, the team will be hoping that he allows three or fewer runs in this one. On offense, 1B Adrian Gonzalez is a guy that just might come through for Los Angeles. He is 7-for-15 with two doubles and two RBI against Strasburg in his career and will be looking forward to getting a crack at him again. 3B Justin Turner could also come through, as he is 2-for-3 with two homers and five RBI against the righty.
The Nationals are hoping to close the gap between them and the Dodgers with a win on Sunday, so they should be pretty happy to have Strasburg taking the ball in such a big game. The righty has been absolutely dominant lately, as he has not allowed a single earned run in his past four starts. He has pitched 29.0 innings over that span, so it’s truly remarkable what he has done. And it’s not like he struggled before this little streak either. Strasburg has allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine of his past 10 outings, but one of those saw him only pitching two innings in a win over Arizona. Still, the point is that the righty is clicking heading into this game and should be able to perform at a high level once again. As for the Nationals offense, one guy that just might produce here is 3B Anthony Rendon. Rendon is 2-for-3 with a double and a homer against Ryu in his career, so he clearly likes something that he sees against the lefty.