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Dodgers face Nationals in late-season NL showdown

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Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals
Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy have been key cogs in the high-powered Nationals offense in 2017.
Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Dodgers and Nationals meet in a potential NLCS preview this weekend, with three games at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.

Things get started on Friday night.

Fearsome foursomes

These two offenses are each buoyed by a quartet players, all of whom rank among the very best hitters in the National League this season. Here’s where they rank among qualified NL players in wRC+ in 2017:

  • 2nd — Bryce Harper 162 wRC+
  • 4th — Justin Turner, 153
  • 7th — Cody Bellinger, 143
  • 11th — Anthony Rendon, 140
  • 14th — Daniel Murphy, 135
  • 15th — Ryan Zimmerman, 133
  • 16th — Corey Seager, 132
  • 17th — Chris Taylor, 130

Harper is the one missing this weekend, out a month with a hyperextended left knee. The superstar outfielder was enjoying a fine season reminiscent of his 2015 MVP campaign, hitting .326/.419/.614 with 29 home runs, 27 doubles, 87 RBI and 92 runs scored in just 106 games.

Harper doesn’t turn 25 until October 16, by the way.

150 games

A combination of regular rest, a liberal use of the 10-day disabled list, and playing matchups throughout the season, the Dodgers will end 2017 with just one player playing in 150 games — Yasiel Puig is at 139 games played, with 16 remaining.

Washington, meanwhile, has dealt with a bevy of injuries throughout its roster all year, and is in a similar boat. Rendon, with 134 games played and 16 games left in the season, is the only Nationals player who can reach 150 games this season.

Even with the injuries, the Nationals have persevered. Since Harper’s injury, for instance, they are 20-12 (.625).

Old friend alert

Most starts by drafted Dodgers pitchers

Pitcher Year (round) Starts
Pitcher Year (round) Starts
Orel Hershiser 1979 (17th) 466
Doyle Alexander 1968 (9th) 464
Bob Welch 1977 (1st) 462
Charlie Hough 1966 (8th) 440
Rick Sutcliffe 1974 (1st) 392
Rick Rhoden 1971 (1st) 380
Dave Stewart 1975 (16th) 348
Ted Lilly 1996 (23rd) 331
Sid Fernandez 1981 (3rd) 300
Clayton Kershaw 2006 (1st) 287
Edwin Jackson 2001 (6th) 285
Players drafted and signed by the Dodgers; Starts include games with all major league teams

Edwin Jackson starts the series opener for the Nationals, 14 years and six days after he made his major league debut on his 20th birthday with the Dodgers. Washington is one of 12 different MLB teams for whom Jackson has pitched.

Friday will be Jackson’s 286th career start in the majors, which ranks 12th all-time among pitchers drafted and signed by the Dodgers.

Jackson, selected in the sixth round by the Dodgers in 2001, will move one start behind Clayton Kershaw on that list, which is topped by Orel Hershiser (17th round, 1979) and his 466 starts.

Man of steal

Trea Turner missed 51 games with a broken wrist, sidelined for all of July and most of August. But he’s back with a vengeance, and still the dynamic player he was last year as a rookie. Now at shortstop after playing center field in 2016, Turner is hitting .311/.382/.590 in 16 games since his return from the disabled list.

On the season, he has stolen 40 bases in 46 attempts despite playing only 84 games. He stole 33 bases in 39 tries in just 72 games in 2016. Turner in his last 162 games played has stolen 72 bases in 85 tries, an excellent 84.7% success rate.

Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton in his last 162 games played has 81 steals in 94 attempts, an 86.2% clip. The 1980s kid in me is so, so ready for these two to usher in a new ear of volume stolen bases again.

And Turner probably isn’t even the fastest player on the Nationals. That would be 20-year-old outfielder Victor Robles, who did this on Thursday:

Game info

Time: 4:05 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network