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Washington Nationals Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers await in first 2021 road trip

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We look ahead to the Nationals’ first road trip of the season against the defending World Series champion Dodgers.

Atlanta Braves v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

After a dramatic win on their delayed Opening Day, the Washington Nationals proceeded to drop the next two games with the Atlanta Braves, leaving them with a series loss to open the year.

Next, they travel out west to Dodger Stadium to take on the defending World Series champion, Los Angeles Dodgers.

It will be the first time that the Nationals return to Dodger Stadium since Howie Kendrick launched his iconic extra-inning, go-ahead, grand slam in Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS.

Is it relevant to the current series? Not really. Is it fun to bring it up again and reminisce about 2019’s World Series championship? Absolutely.

Here’s the lowdown from Chavez Ravine ahead of the series...

The schedule

  • Game One: Friday, April 9th, 4:10 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2 and MLB Network Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Two: Saturday, 10th, 9:10 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2, Radio: 106.7 The Fan
  • Game Three: Sunday, April 11th, 4:10 pm EDT. TV: MASN 2 and MLB Network (out-of-market), Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Pitching matchups

  • Game One: Joe Ross (0-0, -.— ERA) vs Walker Buehler (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
  • Game Two: TBD (0-0, -.— ERA) vs Julio Urías (1-0, 1.29 ERA)
  • Game Three: Max Scherzer (0-0, 6.00 ERA) vs Dustin May (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Who’s hot?

Trea Turner: Though there was some doubt as to whether he would be on the Opening Day roster after he was missing from the team’s workout the day before, the Nats’ shortstop blazed out of the traps in the three games against the Braves.

In 12 at-bats, Turner went 3-for-11 with a pair of two-run home runs giving him a cool 1.242 OPS through three games. After a strong shortened 2020 season that saw him finish seventh in National League MVP voting, he’ll be hoping this is just the start of another impressive year.

Corey Seager: Picking up right where he left off last year, the 2020 World Series MVP has come flying out the gates in 2021 with .423/.531/.538 slash line in his first 26 at-bats.

The Dodgers would probably like to see a little more power from their shortstop moving forward this season. So far in 2021, only three of Seager’s 11 hits have been for extra bases and none of them have cleared the fence.

With a weakened Nationals’ rotation on tap, it’s a prime opportunity for him to stay hot.

Who’s not?

Max Scherzer: It certainly wasn’t a great Opening Day for the Nationals’ ace. Scherzer has been known for being a bit prone to solo home runs, but he took that to the extreme on Tuesday, allowing four solo shots to the Braves, leaving his offense plenty to do.

The main issue for Scherzer in that contest appeared to be execution as he was leaving too many pitches over the heart of the plate for Braves’ hitters to feast on. He’ll have to be much better at Chavez Ravine, a place he’s succeeded at to the tune of a 2.96 ERA in eight starts.

AJ Pollock: It’s not easy to find any Dodgers who are off to slow starts, as the 44 runs they’ve scored to this point are the second-most in the NL. However, Pollock continues to be a disappointment for L.A. in the third year of his contract.

So far in 2021, Pollock is just 5-for-24 with all five of his hits only going for singles while striking out nine times and walking just twice. If Cody Bellinger can return from injury fairly soon, Pollock could end up losing more playing time to Chris Taylor if he doesn’t improve.

From the opposing dugout

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One more thing to watch

While the Dodgers have been one of the best offenses in the majors early on, they might be without one of their key offensive contributors for this three-game series with the Nationals.

Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP, was spiked at first base by Oakland Athletic’s pitcher Reymin Guduan towards the end of Monday night’s game. He then wasn’t available for either Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s game, leaving his status for the weekend in doubt.

“There’s residual soreness,” Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts, told reporters on Tuesday. “I don’t know what we’re going to do, as far as IL, or no IL. I think right now we’re in a decent spot, but even with that I just don’t know when the return will be.”

It will be a huge loss for Roberts and the Dodgers’ lineup if they end up missing Bellinger for longer via an Injured List stint, then having to rely on the slumping Pollock, veteran utility man Taylor, or rookie Zach McKinstry to step up in the outfield more frequently.