Manager: Dave Roberts (3rd season)
Last 10 games: 2-8
Who to watch: 3B Justin Turner (.462, 5 RBIs), 1B Cody Bellinger (6 HR, 19 RBIs), C Yasmani Grandal (.278 with 7 HR, 26 RBIs), LHP Alex Wood (0-4, 3.35 ERA), RHP Kenley Jansen (3.57 ERA, 6 saves)
Season series vs. Nationals: 2-1
May 18: RHP Ross Stripling (0-1) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (7-1), 7:05 p.m., MASN
May 19: LHP Rich Hill (1-2) vs. RHP Tanner Roark (2-3), 7:05 p.m., MASN
May 20: LHP Alex Wood (0-4) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-3), 1:35 p.m., MASN
Inside the Dodgers:
It’s still early in the season, but the Dodgers are in trouble. The five-time defending National League West champions are currently stuck in last place, with the worst 40-game start by the franchise since 1958, and recently suffered a four-game sweep at the hands of the Reds, the worst club in the NL. One could say the Dodgers’ coast-to-coast struggles began after going 2-1 against the Nationals earlier in the season. In 23 games since that April series, they have only seven wins. They ended a six-game losing streak yesterday with a 7-0 victory over the Marlins, but still went 1-2 in the series. The struggle bus has arrived in Washington, D.C., for their second meetup of 2018, and the Dodgers are hoping to find the spark that will turn their season around.
Injuries have been a major factor in the state of the Dodgers. Several dominant players are sitting on the sidelines with injuries, including pitchers Clayton Kershaw (who is eligible to return this week), Tony Cingrani and Hyun-Jin Ryu. And they’ve lost shortstop Corey Seager for the rest of 2018. Both Logan Forsythe and Justin Turner returned from disabled list on Tuesday before the start of a three-game series against the Marlins. Forsythe had been out since April 14 with right shoulder inflammation. He started 12 of the first 13 games this year, filling in for Turner at third base, and batted .174/.224/.283. Turner made his debut after missing the first 40 games of the season with a non-displaced fracture in his left wrist. Safe to say, his teammates and Manager Dave Roberts are very happy to have him back after he went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and a career-high tying five RBIs in their shutout victory over Miami yesterday. Catcher Yasmani Grandal has been one of the team’s more promising hitters after improving his slashline to .278/.383/.516 with 21 runs, nine doubles, seven home runs and 26 RBIs. He took a seat in Thursday’s contest against the Marlins and will be well-rested to take on the Nationals. During their three-game series in April at Dodger Stadium, Grandal batted .333 with a double and three RBIs in all three contests.
The series starts Friday with right-hander Ross Stripling, who will remain in the rotation until Kershaw is activated off the disabled list, is 0-1 with a 2.21 ERA in 15 games, three starts. As a starter, Stripling is 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA and a 3.27 batting average against. In two career games against the Nats, Stripling is 0-1 with a 21.60 ERA and a 2.40 WHIP. Saturday’s starter, lefty Rich Hill, was removed in the sixth inning of his last outing against the Reds when a blister on his left middle finger flared up. But after completing a bullpen session on Wednesday in Miami, he’s ready to take the mound for the first time this season against the Nats. In five career games, including four starts, against the Nats, Hill is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA. Last season, he went 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA against them. Righty Alex Wood will close out the series on Sunday. Despite a quality start in his last outing on Tuesday against the Marlins, the offense couldn’t muster up more than five hits and the southpaw dropped to 0-4 on the season with a 3.35 ERA. He’s still listed above in our “Who to watch” section because, despite the unfortunate record, he owns a 1.06 WHIP with 47 strikeouts and has walked just eight batters. Opponents are batting just .237 against Wood. In 11 career starts against Washington, Wood is 4-3 with a 2.55 ERA. He earned a no-decision in the Dodgers’ 4-3 victory over the Nats on April 22, allowing three runs, two earned, with one home run in six innings of work.
Closer Kenley Jansen’s first two appearances of the season resulted in a loss and a blown save, and he has already walked six batters in 16 outings (he walked seven total in 2017). Are Jansen’s struggles due to the fact that the team just isn’t winning and he hasn’t had as many save opportunities as in seasons past? Possibly. With a more regular routine, Jansen has allowed just one earned run over his last 10 innings of relief, collecting four saves and striking out eight batters. In 26 career games against Washington, Jansen is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 13 saves.
Update: Because of Friday night’s rainout, the Dodgers and Nationals will play a split-admission doubleheader on Saturday, with the first game beginning at 2:05 p.m. and the nightcap starting at 8:05 p.m. Roark will face Stripling in the first game, with Scherzer opposing Hill in the nightcap. Both games will air on MASN.