Dodgers Vs. Nationals Game Preview: Josiah Gray Makes First Start Against Former Team

The Los Angeles Dodgers look to keep their offensive momentum rolling after a 10-1 blowout win in the series opener against the Washington Nationals.

The Dodgers currently hold the top spot in the National League West standings with a 28-13 and are also leading the Majors in run differential at +97. The Nationals are on the opposite end as they’ve fallen into last place in the NL East and have a run differential of -56.

Furthermore, they are just a 5-16 when playing at Nationals Park.

Tuesday’s game features many storylines, but none greater than Josiah Gray, who was a part of the blockbuster trade last season that brought Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers, facing his former team.

L.A. sent Gray, Keibert Ruiz, Donovan Casey and Gerardo Carrillo to the Nationals in the trade.

Gray has never faced his former club, but in his time with the Nationals, he has posted a 4.92 ERA with a 5.47 FIP in 20 starts. Gray has continued to struggle with allowing the long ball and limiting walks in his first full season at the Major League level.

The 24-year-old is playing for a rebuilding team that doesn’t field a top-end defense behind him, and that alone can cause peripherals to skyrocket. But Gray’s issues are a lot to do with his performance and allowing over two home runs per nine innings on average.

His talent and stuff are what made Gray a top Dodgers prospect prior to the trade and when the Nationals find consistency, it should help him become a quality front-end starter.

Gray faces off against Walker Buehler, who has been battling with the effectiveness of his fastball and recently worked to address mechanical issues in a bullpen session that yielded positive results.

Buehler enters 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA through his first eight starts this season while averaging 5.2 innings per outing.

He has allowed a .250 batting average to opposing hitters, but while Buehler begins to work in a more varied pitch mix, he still sits in the 89th percentile in chase rate and 83rd in average exit velocity.

Buehler could benefit from mixing in more of his offspeed pitches, as he’s only yielding a .130 batting average on his slider and a .156 average on his curveball, both of which remain complementary pitches to his four-seam fastball and cutter.

The Dodgers lineup features the familiar top three in Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Trea Turner. Cody Bellinger is not starting as Chris Taylor slides over to play center field.

Dodgers lineup

RF: Mookie Betts
1B: Freddie Freeman
SS: Trea Turner
C: Will Smith
2B: Max Muncy
3B: Justin Turner
DH: Edwin Ríos
CF: Chris Taylor
LF: Gavin Lux

Nationals lineup

2B: César Hernández
C: Keibert Ruiz
RF: Juan Soto
DH: Nelson Cruz
1B: Josh Bell
LF: Yadiel Hernandez
3B: Maikel Franco
CF: Lane Thomas
SS: Dee Strange-Gordon

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