Game 81 lineups: Nats vs. Dodgers (Schwarber, Avila to IL)

How’s this for a primetime nationally televised matchup tonight at Nationals Park: one of the best pitchers in baseball versus Clayton Kershaw.

What, you don’t believe Paolo Espino is one of the best pitchers in baseball? Among all major leaguers with at least 35 innings pitched this season, he ranks 11th in ERA (2.02), 12th in WHIP (0.869) and first in walks per nine innings (1.01). Are you a believer now?

Espino-Throwing-White-Sidebar.jpgOK, so the 34-year-old journeyman faces a really tough test tonight in the Dodgers, who as we’ve seen the last two nights have a deep lineup and a deep bench and can match up well with anyone. We’re going to find out what Espino is made of in this high-profile assignment.

It would help, of course, if his teammates can provide some run support against Kershaw, whom they have had some success against before. It’s another new-look lineup, unfortunately, with Kyle Schwarber out with what manager Davey Martinez is calling a “significant” right hamstring strain.

Schwarber was officially placed on the 10-day injured list, but he’s not the only one. Alex Avila also had to go on the 10-day IL with strains of both of his calf muscles. So the club has recalled Tres Barrera from Triple-A Rochester to serve as backup catcher and Yadiel Hernandez to serve as a backup outfielder, with Gerardo Parra now starting in left field.

The Nationals also officially acquired veteran infielder Alcides Escobar from the Royals for cash, and he’ll be starting at shortstop until Trea Turner is ready to play. The club wound up designating Humberto Arteaga for assignment to clear a spot on both the active and 40-man roster for Escobar, so his time here unfortunately was short-lived.

Reminder: Tonight’s game is on FOX. It’s Aaron Goldsmith, John Smoltz and Ken Rosenthal with the call. See the below link for the coverage map to see if it’s on in your area.

Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:15 p.m. EDT
TV: FOX (coverage map),
Radio: 106.7 FM,
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 76 degrees, wind 8 mph left field to right field

2B Josh Harrison
RF Juan Soto
1B Ryan Zimmerman
3B Starlin Castro
C Yan Gomes
LF Gerardo Parra
SS Alcides Escobar
CF Victor Robles
RHP Paolo Espino

RF Mookie Betts
2B Max Muncy
3B Justin Turner
CF Cody Bellinger
C Will Smith
1B Albert Pujols
SS Gavin Lux
LF AJ Pollock
LHP Clayton Kershaw

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