Opposite dugout: Dodgers, Kershaw have rough postseason history of their own

DodgersLogo.jpgManager: Dave Roberts (1st season)

Record: 91-71

Last 10 games: 5-5

Who to watch: SS Corey Seager (.308/.365/.512 with 26 HR, 72 RBIs), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.285/.349/.435 with 18 HR, 90 RBIs), 3B Justin Turner (.275/.339/.439 with 27 HR, 90 RBIs), LHP Clayton Kerhsaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA), RHP Kenley Jansen (1.83 ERA with 47 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 5-1

Pitching probables:

Oct. 7: LHP Clayton Kerhsaw vs. RHP Max Scherzer, 5:30 p.m., FS1
Oct. 8: LHP Rich Hill vs. RHP Tanner Roark, 4 p.m., FS1
Oct. 10: LHP Gio Gonzalez vs. RHP Kenta Maeda, TBA, FS1/MLBN
Oct. 11: TBA vs. TBA, TBA, FS1*
Oct. 13: TBA vs. TBA, TBA, FS1*

*if necessary

Inside the Dodgers:

The postseason is finally here, as the Dodgers come to D.C. to take on the Nationals in the National League Division Series. Let's get it started ...

The Dodgers' season was the epitome of the grind of a major league campaign. After trailing the seemingly impossible-to-catch Giants and fighting for a wild card for most of the season, the Dodgers finally took over the top spot in the NL West in mid-August and never looked back on their way to their fourth straight division title. However, even with four straight West championships and the high level of play the club has produced over recent years, the Dodgers don't have success in the postseason, not making the NLCS since 2013 or the World Series since 1988.

So how did they get here in 2016?

Well, the Dodgers have had a consistently productive offense throughout the year, starting with shortstop Corey Seager. The favorite to be named NL Rookie of the Year, Seager is slashing an impressive .308/.365/.512 with 26 home runs and 72 RBIs in 157 games. Playing consistently throughout the entire season is what will give Seager an edge over the Rockies' Tevor Story and the Nationals' Trea Turner in the Rookie of the Year race. Along with the rookie phenom, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has produced a .285/.349/.435 slash line with 18 homers and 90 RBIs. That RBI total is tied for the team high with third baseman Just Turner, who has added a .275/.339/.439 line with 27 homers.

Catcher Yasmani Grandal has also knocked 27 homers for a share of the team lead during the regular season. Center fielder Joc Pederson, a former Home Run Derby participant, displayed his power this season with 25 home runs and 68 RBIs. And although it shouldn't hold him out of this series, he did suffer a shoulder injury in the Dodgers' regular season finale against the Giants. Right fielder Yasiel Puig plays excellent defense with his athleticism, but his poor production at the plate (and perhaps some attitude issues) had him sent down to the minor leagues and reportedly the trading block earlier this year.

With all of that power, what are the Dodgers' weaknesses on offense? The glaring one is their ineffectiveness against left-handed pitching. The team's .213/.290/.332 slash line against southpaws is the worst in all of baseball. The Dodgers also don't run aggressively on the bases. Left fielder Howie Kendrick leads the team with just 10 stolen bases.

But the Dodgers' biggest strength has to be left-hander and Game 1 starter Clayton Kershaw, who finished the season 12-4 with a 1.69 ERA. His ERA was the lowest in his career, but his win total was also the lowest since 2009 in a career-worst 21 starts due to a back injury. He was able to throw seven innings of one-run ball against the Nats back in June before the injury. But Kershaw is back and healthy for October, a time of the year where he hasn't proven to be his usual self. He is only 2-6 with a 4.59 ERA in 13 postseason appearances. So if there was ever a time to get to Kershaw, it would be now.

While the Nationals kept their Games 2 and 3 starters a secret, the Dodgers had already laid out their rotation for the next two games. Left-hander Rich Hill will take the mound on Saturday at Nats Park. The 12-year veteran was a late acquisition for the Dodgers in a trade with the Athletics. He is 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA for all of 2016, but just 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts with L.A. Hill didn't face the Nationals this year, but is 1-1 with a 4.34 ERA in four appearances (three starts) against them in his career. Hill also lost his only postseason start for the Cubs in Game 3 of the 2007 NLDS against the Diamondbacks, lasting just three innings and giving up three runs and six hits. Kenta Maeda will be the first right-hander to start for the Dodgers in this series' first game at Dodger Stadium. The 28-year-old rookie pitched to a 16-11 record and 3.48 ERA this season. Depending on what happens in D.C., Game 3 could be a clinching or turning-point situation for this series, which would be a lot to ask of from a pitcher who has neither faced the Nationals nor pitched in the postseason.

The hot topic of this young postseason so far has been the usage of closers in late-game situations. The Dodgers have a good one in right-hander Kenley Jansen, who has a 1.83 ERA. His 47 saves are tied with the Nationals' Mark Melancon and the Orioles' Zach Britton for the second-most in the major leagues. It will be interesting to see how first-year manager Dave Roberts uses Jansen throughout this postseason, an issue Nationals fans are far too familiar with.

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