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Dodgers & Nationals have forged different paths, for starters

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MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers continue their road trip with a weekend series against the Nationals beginning Friday night in Washington D.C., weather permitting.

At the end of play on April 29 the Dodgers just lost three of four games to the Giants, and the Nationals dropped a weekend series at home to the Diamondbacks. LA was 12-15 and Washington was 12-16, both teams disappointing in their starts after both were heavy preseason favorites to repeat as division winners in 2018.

Washington won the series finale against Arizona to avoid a sweep and haven’t looked back since. They have won 13 of their last 15 games and though not yet atop the National League East look a lot more like their expectations than at the start of the year.

The Dodgers meanwhile have gone in the other direction, cratering all the way to the bottom of the NL West. Los Angeles since the series in San Francisco is 5-11 and they have lost 15 of their last 22 games overall.

Both bullpens have struggled, with the Dodgers ranking 24th in the majors in relief ERA (4.51) and 28th in fWAR (-0.1), while the Nationals are 21st (4.38) and 17th (0.9) respectively.

The difference between the two teams is the starting rotations. The Nationals are second in the majors in rotation ERA (2.92), FIP (3.20) and strikeout rate (27.9%). Dodgers starters have been good too, ranking seventh in starters ERA (3.48), third in FIP (3.34) and fourth in strikeout rate, but are averaging just 5.29 innings per start.

Washington starters are averaging 6.09 innings, third in the majors. This is important because the Nationals have had to turn to their bullpen for 36 fewer innings than the Dodgers.

Whether this series opener gets played Friday night remains to be seen. There is heavy rain expected in the hours leading up to and after the game, and light rain expected during the game.

Game info

Time: 4:05 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network