The Dodgers are playing as well after the All-Star break as they were before it, and find themselves in a power position entering Sunday's series finale against the Nationals. The Dodgers have won the first two games in Washington D.C. and send ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound on Sunday.
Kershaw in his career has started eight games with a chance for a series sweep, and the Dodgers have won seven of the eight games. Kershaw is 5-1 with a 2.82 ERA in those games, with 49 strikeouts and 16 walks in 51⅓ innings. But his career ERA is 2.69 and he has more strikeouts (1,113) than innings pitched (1,089⅓) so it has really been par for the course.
The Dodgers will need another good performance out of Kershaw to beat Jordan Zimmermann on Sunday. The Nationals are undefeted in his 11 home starts this season and the right-hander is 9-0 with a 1.75 ERA at Nationals Park in 2013, with 51 strikeouts and 12 walks in 77⅓ innings.
Red hot Hanley Ramirez is 8-for-18 (.444) with a double, two walks and a hit by pitch against Zimmermann, who allowed two runs in 7⅔ innings in a win at Dodger Stadium on May 13.
Kershaw struck out 11 Nationals and didn't allow a run on May 14 in Los Angeles. He threw a career-high 132 pitches and came to within one out of a shutout. Kenley Jansen struck out Tyler Moore to end that game and preserve the 2-0 win, continuing his success against the Nationals.
Jansen has not allowed a run in his career against the Nationals, and has retired all six batters he has faced in this series while recording two saves. Jansen's 12⅓ innings against the Nationals are the most scoreless frames he has against any one team without giving up a run, to go along with 23 strikeouts, three unintentional walks and just three hits allowed.
After 11 pitches Friday and 13 more on Saturday, Jansen wasn't overly taxed in his two saves during this series, so he could be available for a third straight day, something that has happened on two previous occasions this season.
In a series that has seen the starting pitchers allow five total runs in 24⅓ innings, a 1.85 ERA, the game figures to be close late, again. Having Jansen available may be the key to a sweep.
Or maybe Kershaw, with four days rest after pitching an inning in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, can finish this one himself.
Time: 10:35 a.m.
TV: KCAL, TBS