Nationals Vs. Dodgers Game Preview: Edwin Rios Starts In Right Field; Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw Duel

Having won the first two games of the series, the Los Angeles Dodgers now go for a sweep of the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium. The Sunday afternoon matchup is notable for multiple reasons, with one being the pitching clash between future Hall of Famers Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.

It’s the third time Kershaw and Scherzer meet during the regular season, with the first also being at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 7, 2008. Scherzer was with the Arizona Diamondbacks at the time, and the Dodgers won 5-3. Scherzer then got some revenge in 2018, with the Nationals earning a 5-2 victory.

“I think the level of compete for both these guys is next level. And obviously when they’re opposing one another, I think it might be, if at all possible, it might be heightened that much more,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

“So to watch two of the best of our generation go head to head, for me, I’m excited. … I remember numerous starts where Clayton is pitching and see you Max watching everything that Clayton does, because he wants to put eyes on him. And vice versa. When Max is pitching, I’ve watched Clayton watch everything he does.

“That’s where great players admire and like to watch great players. So now, when you’ve got these guys opposing one another, I think it brings out a little more in them. Whatever that might be. So I think for me to see it coming out from both players and both teams, you want to play well for your aces.”

After laboring in his Opening Day start, Kershaw is coming off a strong outing in which he allowed just one run and had eight strikeouts over seven innings. A win on Sunday would improve his career record 177-77 and put Kershaw in an elite club of pitchers who are 100 or more games above .500.

Since the introduction of divisional play in 1969, that group features Pedro Martinez (219-100), Roger Clemens (354-184), Randy Johnson (303-166), Jim Palmer (245-137), Mike Mussina (270-153), Andy Pettitte (256-153), Greg Maddux (355-227) and Tom Glavine (305-203).

Scherzer also was roughed up a bit in his first start of the season, allowing four runs on five hits in six innings. The right-hander nevertheless did manage to record nine strikeouts during the outing. Scherzer is looking to play stopper as the Nats are on a four-game losing streak.

He faces a Dodgers lineup that is without Mookie Betts a fourth consecutive game because of lower back stiffness. Zach McKinstry had been playing right field, but he slides to the other corner and Edwin Rios now gets his chance to fill the void.

Rios played two games in right field for Double-A Tulsa in 2017, and two more in 2019 while with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Valenzuela ceremony

The Dodgers are honoring the 40th anniversary of Fernandomania being born with a pregame ceremony for Fernando Valenzuela. It caps off what’s been an eventful weekend at Dodger Stadium, which began with a World Series ring ceremony and include a Tommy Lasorda tribute.

“That’s something we talk about a lot as far as eliminating distractions. Regardless of opponent, location, time of year, we’re focused on winning a baseball game,” Roberts said.

“I think that just resonates in our clubhouse. There’s a lot of stuff going on that could be looked upon as distractions, but it just doesn’t get in the way of us taking care of business.”

Dodgers lineup

2B: Gavin Lux
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Max Muncy
CF: Chris Taylor
RF: Edwin Rios
LF: Zach McKinstry
C: Austin Barnes
P: Clayton Kershaw

Nationals lineup

CF: Victor Robles
SS: Trea Turner
RF: Juan Soto
1B: Ryan Zimmerman
2B: Jordy Mercer
3B: Starlin Castro
LF: Yadiel Hernandez
C: Jonathan Lucroy
P: Max Scherzer

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