The Los Angeles Dodgers (94-52) are coming off of an off day after traveling across the country to face off against the Washington Nationals (89-57) in a critical three game series.
This weekend is important for both teams, because the postseason is vastly approaching and that makes home field advantage a priority. These two teams have the best records in the National League, and a possible matchup in the 2017 NLCS is very likely, with all due respect to other contending NL organizations.
Alex Wood (14-3) will be dueling against Edwin Jackson (5-5) in the MLB Network Showcase on Friday evening. Both records depict an opposite perception, but these pitchers have gone 0-2 in the month of September.
Jackson and Wood also share interesting similarities within those rough outings. They tend to lose focus once batters are on base, and have responded negatively during the middle of their starts. However, Wood’s been one of the most dominant pitchers in the NL this season and will look to turn things around by pitching well against a loaded Nationals batting order.
Wood has an impressive 2.81 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 22 starts this season, and his pitching mechanics have dramatically improved throughout the year. Look for him to attack the zone (inside and upper edge corners), and establish first pitch strikes in order to gain ground in the count.
The Nationals are usually loaded, but many of Washington’s hitters either struggle or have never faced Alex Wood. A couple of players to look out for, however, would be Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon. In their last 5 years against Wood, Murphy has hit .455 in 11 at-bats and Rendon has hit .706 in 17 at-bats. Luckily for the Dodgers, Bryce Harper is out and has been on the DL since August 13th due to a bruised/hyperextended left knee.
On the other side, many Dodgers have hit Edwin Jackson well over the last 5 years, though none have gotten looks of more than 6 at-bats. Something to note is that Andre Ethier has a .400 batting average against Jackson in the last 5 years and he will be starting.
Edwin Jackson surrenders plenty of extra base hit opportunities against the opposition and has an ERA of 3.88 this year. Look for the Dodgers offense to come out aggressively from the start and provide some early run support for Wood.
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