Dodgers, Nats' NLDS foe, boast left-handed power bats and strong rotation

Of all the ups and downs the Nationals bullpen has struggled through this season, the biggest challenge is waiting for them in Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers offense is loaded with left-handed batters. The Nationals bullpen, as was seen with the wild card roster, has only one lefty, Sean Doolittle.

The Dodgers, who host the Nationals in the National League Division Series starting Thursday, have a versatile power-hitting lineup that hit 279 home runs during the regular season, most in the NL.

Los Angeles also has the highest OPS (.810) in the NL and was tied with the Cardinals for the most steals with 116. The Dodgers' .338 on-base percentage is second in the league.

Cody Bellinger, a candidate for NL MVP, hit .305 with a .406 on-base percentage, 47 home runs and 115 RBI.

Corey Seager hit 19 home runs and batted .272, Justin Turner 27 and .290 and Joc Pederson 36 and .246. Max Muncy had 35 home runs and Alex Verdugo 12.

Of that group, only Turner bats right-handed.

The Dodgers can pitch, too. Their rotation led the majors in ERA (3.11) WHIP (1.07) and shutouts (18).

The Dodgers rotation will be Walker Buehler (14-4, 3.26 ERA) Clayton Kershaw (16-5, 3.03 ERA), Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-5, 2.32 ERA) and 39-year-old Rich Hill (4-1, 2.45 ERA).

The Dodgers want Kershaw to pitch Game 2 so that he can pitch in relief later in the series.

Ryu was the favorite to win the NL Cy Young after the first five months, but he struggled in September. The good news for the Dodgers is that he finished with seven shutout innings in his last start of the season.

Closer Kenley Jansen slumped this season, but seems to be pitching his best going into the NLDS. He saved 33 of 41 games. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says he's confident in Jansen.

The Dodgers have won seven consecutive NL West titles and finished this season with a franchise-record 106 wins.

The last time the Dodgers finished out of first place was in 2012, when Matt Kemp and Andre Either were their leading power hitters.

What does it mean if the Dodgers can't win the World Series?

The Dodgers' success will be judged on whether they can win their first World Series since 1988, the year they beat heavily favored Oakland, thanks in part to Kirk Gibson's dramatic walk-off home run in Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Houston beat the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series in Dodger Stadium. A year later on the same field, Boston beat the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 5 to finish the 2018 World Series.

How important is winning a World Series to the Dodgers' legacy?

Consider they are one of three teams to have at least seven consecutive division titles, the others being the Yankees (1998-2006) and Braves (1991-2005).

During those streaks, the Yankees won three World Series, beating San Diego in 1998, Atlanta in 1999 and the Mets in 2000. The Braves won one title in that time, against Cleveland in 1995.

Because of that, those Yankees teams are considered one of the best teams in history, the Braves are labeled underachievers.

The Dodgers won their first of seven division titles in 2013. Only pitchers Kershaw, Ryu and Jansen have been there for all seven championships.

Roberts is aware that the Dodgers, since winning the NL West with a comfortable cushion, will be ready for the intensity of the postseason, even with three days off.

"We understand the importance of these games,'' Roberts told reporters. "We will be ready.''

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