All eyes will be on Washington’s lineup card Wednesday when the Nationals face the host Los Angeles Dodgers in the rubber match of a three-game series. Star right fielder Bryce Harper was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup with left knee soreness, but Nationals manager Matt Williams said he could return for Wednesday’s series finale.
With Harper sidelined, the Nationals went quietly Tuesday in a 5-0 loss that dropped them 2 1/2 games back of the first-place Mets in the NL East. Williams has been encouraged by the improved play of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and shortstop Ian Desmond, but the Nationals’ key offensive figure might be left fielder Jayson Werth, who is 8-for-50 in 14 games since returning from the disabled list. The Dodgers maintained their 2 1/2 game lead in the NL West over second-place San Francisco on Tuesday as right fielder Yasiel Puig homered and drove in all five runs. Los Angeles won despite another rough showing by rookie center fielder Joc Pederson, who was hitless in two at-bats and is 3-for-35 over his last 12 games.
TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), SportsNet LA (Los Angeles)
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Dodgers in the -200 range but that has moved to around -215. The total has opened at 6 at most offshores.
INJURY REPORT: Nationals – LF Bryce Harper (Questionable, knee).
WEATHER WATCH: Temperatures expected to be in the mid-70s under clear skies and wind blowing out to right field at around 6 mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Things are looking up as Werth, Zimmerman, and Rendon have all returned from the DL and the Nats now have a proven, reliable closer in Jonathan Papelbon. OF Joc Pederson, who set SoCal on fire in the first half of the season, is about as cold as a block of dry ice in an igloo right now. The Dodgers were unable to get out of Pittsburgh with a win, and now continue a tough stretch which includes eight games against the Nats, A’s, and Stros.” Covers Expert Big Al McMordie.
Gio Gonzalez’s girlfriend Berenice Lea Moures and Zack Grenkie’s wife Emily.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Jordan Zimmermann (8-7, 3.44 ERA) vs. Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-6, 2.51)
Zimmermann is 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA over his past six outings, but is coming off a solid effort against Colorado on Friday. The 29-year-old retired 18 of the first 20 batters he faced and exited after yielding one run on four hits with no walks in 6 2/3 innings. Carl Crawford is 5-for-13 and Adrian Gonzalez is 5-for-18 with a home run against Zimmermann, who is 2-1 with a 5.00 ERA in seven career starts against the Dodgers.
Kershaw saw his 37-inning scoreless string came to an end Friday against Pittsburgh as he allowed four runs over six innings, including a leadoff homer to Gregory Polanco on his first pitch of the game. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is three strikeouts away from recording his sixth straight season with at least 200. Kershaw improved to 8-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) against Washington after striking out 14 over eight shutout innings on July 18.
* Dodgers are 6-0 in Kershaw’s last six starts vs. Nationals.
* Nationals are 7-21 in the last 28 meetings in Los Angeles.
* Nationals are 1-6 in their last seven games as an underdog.
* Dodgers are 24-3 in Kershaw’s last 27 starts vs. National League East.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Sixty-four percent of users are backing the Dodgers.