Nationals-Dodgers star-studded matchup all over field
LOS ANGELES — Aces galore on the mound. Power hitters in the lineups. Shutdown relievers out of the bullpen.
The National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers is a perfect fit for Hollywood. There are stars all over the field.
Having won a franchise-record 106 games in the regular season, the Dodgers are aiming for a third consecutive World Series appearance after losing to Houston and Boston the last two years.
“Our only goal is to win a championship,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We are equipped to accomplish that goal.”
The Nationals have a streak of their own they want to end: losing four times in the Division Series since 2012.
The Dodgers haven’t played a meaningful game in a couple months. They cruised to their seventh straight NL West title by 21 games over Arizona.
The Nationals eked their way into this round with a dramatic wild-card victory over Milwaukee, helped by a Brewers error in the eighth inning.
For the second straight year, Clayton Kershaw won’t be opening the postseason as the Dodgers’ Game 1 starter. A year ago, they went with Hyun-Jin Ryu against the Atlanta Braves, ending Kershaw’s streak of six consecutive playoff appearances starting Game 1.
This year, right-hander Walker Buehler gets the nod.
“Around here I don’t know if one, two or three really matters,” Buehler said. “The order’s a little bit less significant than people want to make it out to be.”
Buehler worked on his mechanics in his final tuneup last Friday at San Francisco, where he gave up two runs and walked four in five innings. Last season, he debuted a new slider in a start against St. Louis.
“After that one went well, all the kind of doubt went away,” he said. “But I think what I’m doing now and the tinkering is a little bit overblown. I’m just working on things like I have my whole career.”
The Nationals are going with Patrick Corbin, their so-called third ace among a trio that includes Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
“If you look at Corbin, Strasburg, we haven’t had a whole lot of success against those two guys,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “The success or limited success we have had against Scherzer, it’s very limited still.”
Corbin has a 3.36 ERA in 21 career games against the Dodgers, having faced them regularly when he was in the NL West.
The Nationals haven’t announced their starters for Games 2 and 3, which Roberts pointed out while declining to reveal which order Kershaw and Ryu will go in. However, Roberts already said left-hander Rich Hill will start Game 4, if necessary.