A capsule look at the Nationals-Dodgers playoff series

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A look at the best-of-five National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers:

Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Thursday, at Los Angeles, 8:37 p.m. (TBS); Game 2, Friday, at Los Angeles, 9:37 p.m. (TBS); Game 3, Sunday, at Washington, 7:45 p.m. (TBS); x-Game 4, Monday, at Washington, TBA (TBS); x-Game 5, Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Los Angeles, TBA (TBS).

x-if necessary.

Season Series: Dodgers won 4-3.

Projected Lineups:

Nationals: SS Trea Turner (.298, 19 HRs, 57 RBIs, 37 2Bs, 35 SBs, 96 runs), RF Adam Eaton (.279, 15, 49, 15 SBs, 103 runs), 3B Anthony Rendon (.319, 34, 126, 44 2Bs, 117 runs, 1.010 OPS), LF Juan Soto (.282, 34, 110, 110 runs, .949 OPS), 1B Howie Kendrick (.344, 17, 62), 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (.235, 12, 51 in 93 games with Texas; .323, 6, 40 in 38 games with Washington), C Kurt Suzuki (.264, 17, 63), CF Victor Robles (.255, 17, 65, 28 SBs).

Dodgers: 1B Max Muncy (.251, 35, 98, 90 walks, .374 OBP) or David Freese (.315, 11, 29) or Matt Beaty (.265, 9, 46), LF A.J. Pollock (.266, 15, 47), 3B Justin Turner (.290, 27, 67), CF Cody Bellinger (.305, 47, 115, 95 walks, .406 OBP), 2B Gavin Lux (.240, 2, 9) or Kike Hernandez (.237, 17, 64), RF Joc Pederson (.249, 36, 74), SS Corey Seager (.272, 19, 87) or Chris Taylor (.262, 12, 52), C Will Smith (.253, 15, 42) or Russell Martin (.220, 6, 20).

Starting Pitchers:

Nationals: LH Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.25 ERA, 238 Ks, 202 IP), RH Anibal Sanchez (11-8, 3.85), RH Max Scherzer (11-7, 2.92, 243 Ks, 172 1/3 IP), RH Stephen Strasburg (18-6, 3.32, 251 Ks, NL-high 209 IP in 33 starts).

Dodgers: RH Walker Buehler (14-4, 3.26, team-high 215 Ks), LH Clayton Kershaw (16-5, 3.03), LH Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-5, MLB-best 2.32), LH Rich Hill (4-1, 2.45).


Nationals: LH Sean Doolittle (6-5, 4.05 ERA, 29/35 saves), RH Daniel Hudson (6-3, 3.00, 2 saves with Toronto; 3-0, 1.44, 6 saves with Washington), RH Fernando Rodney (0-2, 9.42 with Oakland; 0-3, 4.05, 2 saves with Washington), RH Hunter Strickland (0-1, 8.10, 2 saves with Seattle; 2-0, 5.14 with Washington); RH Tanner Rainey (2-3, 3.91), RH Wander Suero (6-9, 4.54, 1 save).

Dodgers: RH Kenley Jansen (5-3, 3.71, 33/41 saves), RH Kenta Maeda (10-8, 4.04 in 37 games, 26 starts), LH Julio Urias (4-3, 2.49, 4 saves), RH Pedro Baez (7-2, 3.10), RH Joe Kelly (5-4, 4.56), LH Adam Kolarek (2-0, 0.77, 11 2/3 IP), RH Tony Gonsolin (4-2, 2.93), RH Yimi Garcia (1-4, 3.61), RH Dustin May (2-3, 3.63), RH Ross Stripling (4-4, 3.47 in 32 games, 15 starts).


Dodgers won only previous playoff meeting with Washington, taking 2016 NLDS three games to two. Los Angeles also won 1981 NLCS 3-2 over Montreal Expos, who moved to nation’s capital and became Nationals before 2005 season. … Nationals carry nine-game winning streak into series, including wild-card victory over Milwaukee aided by Brewers error in eighth inning. Dodgers closed regular season with seven straight wins. … Teams split four games at Dodger Stadium in May, and Los Angeles won two of three at Washington in late July. LA outscored Nationals 30-27 in seven games, three of which were shutouts – two by Dodgers. … Corbin will start series opener for Nationals, two days after Scherzer started wild-card game against banged-up Brewers and Strasburg threw three shutout innings to earn win in his first major league relief appearance. Washington rallied for 4-3 victory at home to advance in playoffs for first time since moving to Washington. Club lost Division Series in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017. That includes 0-3 record in win-or-go-home Game 5s, each time at home. … Corbin has pitched very well against Dodgers the past two years. He left NL West rival Arizona last offseason for $140 million deal with Washington. … Dodgers were 30-22 against left-handers and 76-34 vs. righties this season. … Nationals set franchise record with 231 homers. … Washington’s 5.66 bullpen ERA was worst in NL. … Robles ranked fourth in majors with 12 outfield assists. … Dodgers hit 279 home runs, fourth-most in majors.

Big Picture:

Nationals: Surged to a playoff spot for fifth time in eight years by turning things around after a dismal start; they were 19-31 after May 23 loss to Mets completed a four-game sweep. Washington is first team in more than a century to fall 12 games below .500 and finish with 93 wins or more. … There were plenty of early calls for manager Dave Martinez to be dismissed, but GM Mike Rizzo never wavered in his public support of the skipper. In the end, Washington (93-69) won 11 more games than in 2018, when it missed the playoffs after two straight NL East titles under manager Dusty Baker, who was then fired. … Success is built mainly on the starting rotation, which is among the best in the majors, led by Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin. Those three all ranked in the top 10 in NL in ERA, strikeouts and opponents’ batting average and figure to give Washington a real shot against NL-best Dodgers. … This is Nationals’ first playoff appearance as a wild-card team. … Martinez won his postseason debut as a manager in wild-card game against Milwaukee. Washington went 82-80 during his rookie season as a skipper in 2018. … Martinez missed three games and part of a fourth because of a heart problem in September. He had a medical procedure and was back in the dugout a few days later.

Dodgers: Rolled to seventh consecutive NL West title by 21 games over Arizona and set franchise record with 106 wins, second in majors to Houston (107). Despite huge division lead, showed no letup down the stretch. … Dodgers were dominant at home with 59-22 mark and have home-field advantage through NL playoffs. … Jansen has struggled this season, compiling worst ERA of career, but manager Dave Roberts’ confidence hasn’t wavered in the three-time All-Star. … Turner has been dealing with back tightness that caused him to miss the last five games of regular season. He’ll return for series opener, but exactly how healthy is remains unknown. … Hill will start Game 4 on the road, if necessary. The 39-year-old lefty missed nearly three months with a strained flexor tendon in his pitching forearm and then in his first start back experienced right knee pain. … Kershaw could see some bullpen duty in addition to his start or starts. … Kelly threw six pitches in the regular-season finale, his first appearance since Sept. 18 because of an unspecified injury. He’s expected to be ready for Game 1. … Ryu and Buehler were outstanding at home. Ryu was 10-1 with a 1.93 ERA, while Buehler went 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA. … Young outfielder Alex Verdugo is out of NLDS because of lower back injury.

Watch For:

– Mad Max. Scherzer gave up two early homers to Milwaukee in wild-card game, allowing three runs and four hits in five innings. But the Nationals came back to win after his teams lost his previous seven postseason games – four with Washington and three with Detroit. The three-time Cy Young Award winner, slowed by a back injury this season, is 4-5 with a 3.83 ERA in 14 postseason starts and 17 appearances.

– Dodgers Newcomers. Keep an eye on rookies Lux and Smith. What they lack in playoff experience, they make up for in ability and poise while being embraced by the veterans. Lux, the team’s top prospect, played in 23 games as a September call-up. Smith has power at the plate but batted .175 in September.

– Rendon’s Bat. Martinez has lobbied for Rendon to get MVP consideration and there’s no doubt who Washington’s best hitter has been all season. He led the NL in RBIs and ranked second in OPS and in the top five in batting average. Rendon worked a critical walk against hard-throwing closer Josh Hader in the wild-card game to load the bases and help set up Soto’s clutch single.

– Streakin’ Seager. The 2016 NL Rookie of the Year has rebounded from elbow and hip surgeries in 2018. He ended the regular season by batting .400 over the last 11 games with nine extra-base hits.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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