As the Dodgers return home to Los Angeles coming off a weekend sweep in Pittsburgh, they can take a modicum of solace in the fact that they will be the least disappointing preseason National League favorite on the field Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
The Nationals come to town 8-14 in their last 22 games, 1-5-1 in their last seven series, no longer in first place in the National League East, 1½ games behind New York in the division and five games back of the second wild card position.
As the old saying goes, momentum is today's starting pitcher, which brings us to a pair of ground ball machines in Monday's series opener.
Brett Anderson is tops in baseball with a 66.3-percent ground ball rate, with 11 quality starts in his last 14 outings. On Monday, Anderson will start on four days rest for the first time on July 12.
Because of the All-Star break, his own Achilles injury, and the non-waiver trade deadline acquisitions, Anderson's last three starts have come on eight, six and seven days rest, respectively.
In his nine starts on exactly four days rest this season, Anderson is 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA.
Gio Gonzalez ranks fourth in the majors with his 57.2-percent ground ball rate, and has only allowed five home runs all season.
He is 3-3 with a 4.80 ERA in 11 road starts this season, with opposing hitters batting .297/.368/.428. Though his peripheral numbers are better, with a 3.27 FIP, victim of a .374 batting average on balls in play away from home.
The Nationals bullpen had a 3.31 ERA before the All-Star break, but a 4.57 mark since, the latter ranking 14th among 15 National League teams (they rank fifth since the break with a 3.41 bullpen FIP and 3.51 xFIP).
The Dodgers are 15th, at a whopping 6.99 bullpen ERA, after a 3.56 mark before the break. The Dodgers are also last in the NL since the break with a 5.32 bullpen FIP, and a 3.95 xFIP.
The Dodgers bring their sixth three-game losing streak of the season into Monday night's game. So far, they have yet to lose that fourth game in a row.
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA