Saturday features a National League battle of second-place teams as the Los Angeles Dodgers (51-31, 2nd in the N.L. West) take on the Washington Nationals (40-40, 2nd in the N.L. East). The Nationals will host this one at Nationals Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15 pm ET.
The Dodgers have taken the first two games of this series, including a 10-5 victory on Friday.
In the win, Los Angeles poured on nine runs in the seventh inning on their way to victory. Justin Turner and AJ Pollock both homered while Julio Urias picked up his 10th win of the season.
In the loss, Max Scherzer went six innings of one-run ball, striking out eight; however, the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead for him. The offense scored five runs but only managed six hits.
The Dodgers are the favorites Saturday despite playing on the road. They are -205 to win while the Nationals’ moneyline is +172. The runline features Washington +1.5 (-105), while the over/under for total runs is 8.5.
Los Angeles will send future Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw (9-7, 3.25 ERA) to the mound on Saturday. In his last start, a 7-1 win over the Cubs, Kershaw went eight innings, allowing just a single run and striking out 13.
The Nationals will counter with righty Paolo Espino (2-2, 2.02 ERA). In his last start, an 8-4 victory over the Mets, Espino went five scoreless innings and struck out three.
By The Numbers
Offensively, the Dodgers have been one of the best teams in baseball this season. They currently rank fourth in the majors in scoring, averaging 5.04 runs per game. The Nationals fall to 25th averaging 4.06 runs (3.67 at home).
It is once again the Dodgers with the edge defensively. They rank fourth in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 3.68 runs per game. The Nationals rank 10th allowing 4.09 runs per game.
Dodgers Hope To Keep Pressure On The Giants
At 51-31, the Dodgers play in a division that features three of the four best records in the National League. As they have been battling both the Giants and Padres for supremacy in the N.L. West, they will look to put pressure on them by picking up another win on Saturday.
Leading the way offensively for the Dodgers is a first baseman, Max Muncy. On the season, he is hitting .266/.420/.563 with 18 home runs, 44 runs batted in, and 48 runs scored.
He has been especially hot over the last week. In that span, he has three home runs and nine runs batted in while hitting .333. Cody Bellinger and AJ Pollock have both homered twice over the last week as well.
Nationals Try To Overcome Injury
While the Nationals lost the game on Saturday, they also lost one of the hottest hitters in the game. Kyle Schwarber, the slugging leadoff hitter, had to leave the game with a hamstring injury.
To date, Schwarber was hitting .253/.340/.570 with 25 home runs, 53 runs batted in, and 42 runs scored. With him out of the lineup, others are going to have to pick up the pace.
The next best hitter for the Nationals has been Trea Turner. He is currently hitting .318/.367/.513 with 14 home runs, 38 runs batted in, 50 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases.
In his career against Clayton Kershaw, Turner is also hitting .462 in 13 at-bats. While not hitting for as high of average, Ryan Zimmerman and Gerardo Parra have both homered off of the lefty in their careers.
Taking The Dodgers To Win And Cover
Especially with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, and the absence of Kyle Schwarber, this seems like a matchup that heavily favors the Dodgers.
Expect the Dodgers to once again explode offensively while the Nationals could have a hard time putting hits together.
At the end of the day, take the Dodgers to not only win but to cover the -1.5 runline as well.