Nationals-Dodgers: Epic Showdown Between Scherzer & Kershaw

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, April 19, 2018 4:41 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018 4:41 PM UTC

The marquee game of Friday night around baseball is Washington visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers in a possible playoff preview and starting pitching matchup for the ages.

Washington (9-10, 9-8-2 O/U) at LA Dodgers (8-9, 10-7 O/U)Free MLB Pick: UnderBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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If we are being honest, there aren’t too many games/series to get excited about in the grind that is the 162-game MLB regular season. However, this weekend’s series between the Nationals and Dodgers in Los Angeles is definitely a marquee event on the calendar. Friday’s Game 1 begins at 10:10 p.m. ET and isn’t available on national TV (freaking shame) but can be streamed on the new ESPN+ app.

I would frankly be surprised if these two teams don’t meet in the NLCS come October. True, neither is playing great right now and are well back of division leaders the NY Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks. Talent eventually wins out in the long season, and the Nats and Dodgers are two of the three most talented teams in the National League along with the Cubs.

Of course, the Nats and Dodgers met in the 2016 NLDS and the Dodgers won in five. They nearly met in last year’s NLCS, but the Nationals, as they tend to do, blew a clinching game in the NLDS to the Cubs and lost. At BetOnline, the Dodgers remain +400 favorites to repeat as the NL champions. The Nationals are +600.

A few injury notes to be aware of. Washington has two outfielders on the disabled list in Adam Eaton and Brian Goodwin, but the team is hopeful that Eaton will be activated for Friday’s opener. Third baseman Anthony Rendon hasn’t played since last Friday due to a toe injury but not landed him on the DL as of this writing. The Dodgers have been without Justin Turner, and 2B/3B Logan Forsythe recently joined him on the DL.

The Nationals are 6-13 in the last 19 meetings.

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Probable Pitchers: Scherzer vs. Kershaw

We originally were going to be denied a matchup of the two guys who have each won three Cy Young Awards in Washington’s Max Scherzer (two-time reigning winner) and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw in Game 1. Scherzer was always set to start Friday, but Rich Hill was for L.A. Hey, I don’t wish injury to Rich Hill, but thank you for landing on the DL Wednesday with a finger injury. Because of that, the Dodgers moved up Kershaw to oppose Scherzer in simply the pitching matchup of the season.

Scherzer (3-1, 1.33) has been utterly dominant as usual other than a bit of a hiccup on April 4 in Atlanta. He was named NL Player of the Week on Monday after beating the Braves and Rockies last week by allowing just two runs and three hits over 16 innings with 21 strikeouts. Scherzer leads the league in strikeouts (38) and is second in WHIP (0.67) and fourth in ERA (1.33). Batters are hitting just .147 off him.

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.@ClaytonKersh22 will start on Friday against the Nationals followed by Hyun-Jin Ryu on Saturday. @Awood45 will remain as the scheduled starter for Sunday's game. pic.twitter.com/GOHMmtuaCv

— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 19, 2018
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Oh, Scherzer also got his first career steal in the win over Atlanta, joining Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan (on May 16, 1984) as the only pitchers to pitch a shutout, strike out 10 or more batters and steal a base in the same game. Scherzer is the 13th pitcher in MLB history with at least 10 strikeouts in three of his team's first 15 games.

In his regular-season career, Scherzer is 3-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 61.2 innings vs. the Dodgers, allowing 55 hits and striking out 63. Matt Kemp, off to a fine start, has seen him by far more than any Dodger, going just 6-for-46 with 14 strikeouts. Yasiel Puig is 3-for-9 with three extra-base hits. Cody Bellinger is 0-for-3 with three Ks.

As for Kershaw, he’s in a career “slump” since he hasn’t won a Cy Young since 2014. Slacker! Kershaw (1-2, 1.73), who will be on normal rest, has gotten little run support this season as evidenced by his record and that ERA. Last time out was his best start of the young season, allowing just two hits and one run over seven vs. Arizona, striking out a season-high 12 in his first win. It marked the first time the Dodgers scored more than two runs in one of his 2018 starts.

Kershaw is 11-2 in 96 career innings vs. Washington with a 1.97 ERA. Bryce Harper can’t hit the guy, going 1-for-18 with 12 strikeouts. Ryan Zimmerman has had some success, going 8-for-25 with a homer.

  • Under is 5-0-1 in Scherzer’s last 6 road starts.
  • Under is 6-1 in Kershaw’s last 7 home starts vs. Nationals.

We won’t see a lower total all year, and it almost feels like a trap. But both guys could easily pitch seven shutout innings. I have no choice but to recommend ‘under’ for a Friday MLB pick.

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