The Dodgers open a six-game road trip on Friday night with a weekend series in Washington D.C. against the Nationals in a battle between two .500 teams with playoff aspirations.
The Nationals (48-47) have spent most of the season right around .500, never more than five games over and never more than two games under. Washington is six games behind the Braves in the National League West. The Dodgers took a different route to their .500 record (47-47), as they were 12 games under as recently as June 21.
Ricky Nolasco gets the start in the series opener, making his third start for the Dodgers since getting acquired on July 6. He will be on regular rest but also started the Dodgers' final game before the break. As far as I can tell, Nolasco will be the first Dodgers pitcher to start consecutive games was Andy Messersmith, who started July 13 and July 17 in 1975, like Nolasco sandwiched around the All-Star Game.
Nolasco is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts this season against the Nationals, both in April when he was with the Marlins. Most of the damage against Nolasco has been done by Bryce Harper, who is 9-for-20 (.450/.476/.800) with two home runs and a double versus the right-hander, the most hits by Harper against any single pitcher. But every other player on the Nationals with at least 15 plate appearances against Nolasco has done no better than a .695 OPS. Jayson Werth in particular has struggled, at 4-for-34 (.118) against Nolasco.
Stephen Strasburg gets the start for the Nationals on Friday, one week after allowing seven runs in two innings against Miami in the worst outing of his career. Strasburg had a run from May 11 to July 2 that saw him allow 13 total runs in nine starts, but in his last two starts he has allowed 11 runs in eight innings in his last two starts.
Both Nolasco and Strasburg have suffered from poor run support this season, both receiving 3.0 runs per game and tied for the second worst support in MLB. The Nationals have scored two runs or less in 11 of his 18 starts, while Nolasco has received two runs or less in 11 of his 20 starts.
Hanley Ramirez is 3-for-10 with two doubles and two walks against Strasburg, and the only other Dodger with more than five plate appearances against the right-hander is Nolasco, who is 1-for-8.
The Dodgers haven't lost a season series against the Nationals since dropping four of six games to Washington in 2005. After winning each of the last two season series 4-2, the Dodgers won two of three games against the Nationals at Dodger Stadium in May.
Time: 4:05 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket