With a win last night, the Dodgers are one step closer to locking up the NL West division and their spot in the postseason. Their roadstand continues with a weekend series against a Nationals team that is 2-8 over their last ten games. We’ll preview the series’ opening game before going over our play for the first five innings.
On Wednesday, the Washington Nationals snapped a six-game losing slide with a 3-2 win over the Mets. Not only did they snap a losing streak, but it was the first time in eight games that the Nationals pitching staff didn’t allow four or more runs. Starter Joan Adon allowed two earned runs over five innings, and four Nationals relievers held New York scoreless. Offensively, the Nationals biggest hit happened to be a walk-off, with Jacob Young driving in the winning run with a single in the bottom of the ninth.
With the Dodgers in town, the Nationals will have lefty MacKenzie Gore on the mound to start the series. The young lefty picked up his 7th win of the season against the Blue Jays his last time out by allowing one earned run over five innings. Overall, Gore has had an up-and-down season as he enters tonight with a 4.28 ERA over 132.3 innings.
Gore faces a Dodgers lineup tonight that avoided getting swept in a big way yesterday by beating the Marlins 10-0. Catcher Will Smith went 3-6 in the game while picking up an RBI, and in total, the Dodgers put a 16 in the hit column. Aside from the offensive onslaught, LA also got a phenomenal start from Ryan Pepiot, who gave his team seven shutout innings while allowing just one hit.
The Dodgers will have another young stater toeing the slab tonight, with Emmet Sheehan set to make his 9th start. The Boston College product was strong in his four innings against the Braves his last time out, picking up six strikeouts in four innings while allowing one earned run.
The Dodgers F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (+105), and I’ll be backing them for my play. Los Angeles has had no problem facing lefties on the road lately, and their young starters have taken a step forward recently. With MacKenzie Gore’s inconsistency, the experienced Dodgers lineup should be able to get to him early.
Entering tonight, Gore is in the 27th percentile in expected batting average, 20th percentile in hard hit percentage, and 18th percentile in expected ERA. When facing a Dodgers lineup that features Freddie Freeman, these are not the numbers you want. Especially since LA is hitting .290 and ranks 8th in wRC+ and 7th in OPS against lefties on the road over the past month.
Dodgers starter Emmet Sheehan has much more ideal expected numbers entering this matchup as he is in the 94th percentile in expected batting average and 63rd percentile in expected ERA. Sheehan faces a Nationals lineup that is 9th in OPS against right-handed pitching at home over the past 30 days, but they are also 25th in hard-hit percentage. Even if the Nationals can string some hits together, their pitching staff has proven they can’t keep opposing teams out of the run column.
Los Angeles Dodgers F5 (-.5)(+105)