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Alex Wood looking to keep the ball & Nationals down

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Wood gets the first crack at the Nationals, looking to continue his rebound from his second half slump on Friday night in Washington D.C.

Wood has allowed 11 home runs in nine starts since the All-Star break, contributing to his 4.53 ERA since the midsummer classic and a 17% strikeout rate. Before the break, Wood posted a 1.67 ERA and 30.9% strikeout rate, while also allowing two home runs in his 15 games, including 13 starts.

At issue has been SC joint inflammation, a recurrence of something that briefly sidelined earlier in the season as well. Wood has also been refining his mechanics, which he says has gone well, but — much like Yu Darvish before Wednesday night — the results haven’t yet matched up.

“I feel good with where I’m at,” Wood said after his last start on Saturday. “The stuff is starting to play again, and now it’s just getting that command clean. Once that comes, I’ll feel pretty good.”

Starting lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos Nationals
Pos Dodgers Pos Nationals
CF Taylor SS Turner
SS Seager (L) LF Kendrick
3B Turner 2B Murphy (L)
1B Bellinger (L) 1B ZImmerman
RF Puig 3B Rendon
2B Utley (L) RF Werth
C Grandal (S) CF Taylor
LF Ethier (L) C Wieters (S)
P Wood P Jackson
Time: 4:05 p.m. PT TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network

Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon — the National League leader in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (6.3) entering Friday — is 12-for-17 (.706) with a home run and a walk in his career against Wood, though the two haven’t faced each other since Wood joined the Dodgers at the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline.

Right-handed batters against Wood since the All-Star break are hitting .268/.321/.497 in 169 plate appearances, compared to .164/.238/.231 in 214 PA before the break.

Chase Utley gets the start at second base for the Dodgers in the series opener. He’s 8-for-17 (.471) with two triples, a home run, a double and two walks against Edwin Jackson in his career, though they haven’t faced one another since 2014.

As promised, Andre Ethier starts in left field for the Dodgers on Friday, his fourth start in 15 games since getting activated from the disabled list. He is 5-for-17 (.294) with two home runs in his career against Jackson.

Ethier is 4-for-15 with a home run and a walk (.267/.313/.467) in 10 games since returning to the Dodgers.

Dodgers left fielders in September — Curtis Granderson has 27 of the 56 plate appearances at the position this month, with Ethier and Kiké Hernandez totaling nine PA each — are 4-for-49 (.082) with seven walks and 14 strikeouts.