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Dodgers Weekend Primer: Is a Rivalry Brewing With the Nationals?

Dodgers
Sep 16, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Now this is what baseball is all about. A weekend on tap with two National league heavyweights doing battle early in the season. Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals are trying to find their footing. The Dodgers are 8-9, and will need to beat one of baseball’s best on Friday night to reach the .500 mark. The Nationals are 9-10 and coming off a series victory in New York over their rival, the Mets. Something has to give – and when the curtain falls on this series Sunday night – one of these teams is going to be in a little deeper hole. The other is assured to be at .500 or better.

Is this the final time that Bryce Harper will play a regular season game in Los Angeles without wearing Dodger blue? This series has a little bit of everything. Young star power. A Cy Young square-off. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball comes to town. It’s the weekend, and it’s time to enjoy the best that baseball has to offer us in the way of this series between the Dodgers and Nationals.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: Max Scherzer vs. Clayton Kershaw (WOW)

Saturday: Stephen Strasburg vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu

Sunday: Jeremy Hellickson vs. Alex Wood

It certainly looks important that the Dodgers take the opening game, and it will be no easy task. Scherzer is the best pitcher in baseball without the name Kershaw. He’s 3-4 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 2.92 ERA. Saturday’s tilt offers the Dodgers a look at another Cy Young contender in Strasburg. The Sunday night pitching match-up seems to be a bit of a toss-up, but I probably give a slight edge to Alex Wood over Jeremy Hellickson.

Mini Rivalry?

The 2017 postseason is so fresh on everyone’s minds that they seem to forget what happened in 2016. The Dodgers eliminated the Nationals in a scintillating game five on Washington’s home turf. Take a look back at the 2016 NLDS. The Nationals have never won a playoff series and were one win away from doing so. Then the Dodgers took two games straight by a single run. And of course, now there’s talk of Bryce Harper signing in Los Angeles. Full disclosure, I picked the Nationals to win the 2018 World Series before this season began. I feel more certain that when the dust settles, these two teams will be waiting for one another in the end. Washington could end up the club you love to hate most outside the Dodgers’ division, very soon.

Star Power

These two teams could combine for ten All-Stars when July rolls around. ESPN did a great job of picking it for the Sunday night game. If you get a chance to see the commercial previewing the game, it features Cody Bellinger; with a surfer talking about the game. It’s highly interesting. One match-up that could be crucial is Washington closer Sean Doolittle. Doolittle is a lefty with nasty stuff, and late in a game could neutralize the left-handed Dodger bats. There are interesting parallels that could make Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez the 2016 Dave Roberts who storms on the scene and wins manager of the year in his inaugural season as the skipper.

Former Dodger Howie Kendrick is also making a name for himself in the nation’s capital. He is hitting over 300 and knocked in a few runs in the process. It is always interesting to see how former Dodgers are received by the crowd at the Ravine.

This is going to be an awesome series, and I need Friday evening to get here fast. Enjoy yourselves this weekend folks. There’s nothing better than baseball at Dodger Stadium.

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Written by Clint Evans

Clint lives in Ohio, and played collegiate baseball. He loves the Dodgers due to his first memories of Chavez Ravine when he was nine years old. The voice of Vin Scully has been a staple in his life since he was a kid. No amount of baseball talk is ever enough, and he wishes the regular season was year round. He has written about baseball online since 2007.

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