Coming out of the first series of 2017 between Washington and Los Angeles back in June, which saw the Nationals take two of three on the road in LA’s Dodger Stadium, Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts said he was impressed with both teams in the three-game set.
“Very evenly matched, very evenly matched,” Roberts, who led the Dodger to an NLDS win over the Nats in 2016, said.
“Well managed team, well coached team. They’ve got a nice blend of veterans, young players, they can beat you with speed, power, they can pitch, but we can do some things too, so for us to salvage the series, we’ll get them again later and I don’t think this will be the last that we see of these guys.”
Roberts, presumably, was talking about seeing the Nationals again at some point in October, knowing that there was one regular season matchup left on the schedule.
Before the second game of three with the Dodgers in Washington, D.C. this past weekend, Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker talked to reporters about the idea of trying to “hide” players to avoid giving a potential postseason opponent a good look at someone they might see again in a couple weeks on a much bigger stage, a discussion that came up mostly due to the fact that neither Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer or Gio Gonzalez pitched in the series, though mostly due to simple scheduling as Baker did acknowledge.
“I don’t know what their rotation was going to be coming in here, I mean, they could say the same thing about us, no seeing Scherzer, no seeing Gio,” Baker said, “but the way our rotation just came around you can’t just set your rotation like you can in the playoffs. And so we haven’t seen Darvish, I don’t think we’ve ever seen him. I haven’t seen him in person. We’ve seen Kershaw plenty.”
“There is an advantage if you haven’t seen a guy,” the Nats’ veteran skipper explained.
“There’s not much advantage if you’ve seen him with your own eye.
“Nowadays, everything is pretty much out in the open. They used to like hide guys in the back and you didn’t even know who’s starting. They don’t do that any more because they release it a couple days in advance who you’re going to be facing.”
Baker said earlier this past weekend that even if the Nationals didn’t see LA’s top starters, it would be beneficial to get an up-close look at the Dodgers late in the season, after not having seen them since that June series.
“Since June a lot has happened,” Baker said.
“A lot of players — I’m watching TV trying to scout them and I don’t know half of them, or I look at their pitching corps, and six or seven of them, we have no ABs against them, and then the same offensively, pitching against them, there are five or six that we’ve never seen.”
“I’m glad that we have faced probably the strong side of their bullpen, which we haven’t seen in a long time,” Baker added after the Nats’ loss in Saturday’s game.
“And the fact that [Adam Lind] will probably see [Tony] Watson, so he’s seen him, and I think it’s good that we get familiar with these guys.
“They do have a kryptonite, because they’re just one or two games over .500 in their own division, so they do have some weaknesses that you hope you find and exploit.”
Washington managed to salvage the series finale with LA, taking Sunday night’s game to avoid a sweep of the three-game set, behind a strong start by Stephen Strasburg (1 ER/6.0 IP), and some offense from Ryan Zimmerman.
“Two very good ballclubs,” Roberts said after the finale.
“Very similar, very balanced. It’s just contingent upon who’s playing better, who has a better night. I know they have the same respect for us as we do them.
“Tonight, Stras got them out of the sixth inning, but he pitched well.
“He competed. Really couldn’t create much stress towards him or on him. Got to their ‘pen and they were good tonight.”
Baker was asked about the significance of Strasburg throwing a good game against a potential postseason opponent.
“The significance was we beat them two out of three out there and they beat two out of three here,” he said, “and so we end up 3-3, and you certainly didn’t want them to come in our house and sweep us, just like they didn’t want us to come in their house and sweep them, and so that was the real significance is that we won the ballgame and ended up 3-3 on the year with them.”
Will the Nationals and Dodgers meet again in 2017?