The MLB trade deadline looms less than a week away as the Los Angeles Dodgers return to the East Coast to face a possible postseason foe in the Washington Nationals.
The last time the Dodgers saw the Nationals, they split a four-game series with a team in disarray at Dodger Stadium in mid-May. Hyun-Jin Ryu capped off that series by taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning in a 6-0 win, dropping the Nats to 16-24 on the season.
Since then, however, Washington has surged back into Wild Card contention and are currently tied with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals atop those standings.
Their play has pretty much ended any possibility that they would deal closer Sean Doolittle, who the Dodgers were connected to in some early trade speculation.
Ryu, meanwhile, continues to establish himself as the favorite for the National League Cy Young Award. The 2019 All-Star Game starter owns an MLB-best 1.76 ERA, and his 0.94 WHIP is second only to Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros.
Gerardo Parra’s eighth-inning ground-rule double ended Ryu’s no-hit bid the last time the two teams faced off, and Parra has continued to produce since he landed with the Nationals after being cut from the San Francisco Giants in early May.
Parra owns a .283/.327/.489 slash line with the Nats, and his walk-up song choice of “Baby Shark” has become a fan-favorite.
Much like the Dodgers, the Nationals have transformed themselves in recent seasons from a veteran-reliant team to one that now depends on younger, homegrown players. In Washington’s case, strong seasons from shortstop Trea Turner and outfielders Juan Soto and Victor Robles have become huge contributors to the team’s turnaround.
However, the Nationals still reloaded around several solid veterans after losing former face of the franchise Bryce Harper to the Philadelphia Phillies in free agency, including former Dodgers second basemen Brian Dozier and Howie Kendrick.
Ryu is opposed by Anibal Sanchez in a rematch of his brush with a no-hitter. Sanchez sports a 3.80 ERA in his first year with the Nats, and allowed three runs on six hits in 4.1 innings during his previous outing against the Dodgers this season. He has a 3.89 ERA in eight career starts against the Dodgers.
Will Smith returns to the MLB roster following the demotion of Austin Barnes to Triple-A, but Russell Martin starts at catcher on Friday. Martin has been behind the plate for most of Ryu’s starts in 2019.
Furthermore, the Dodgers officially added White to their active roster and placed David Freese on the 10-day injured list due to a left hamstring strain.
1B: Joc Pederson
LF: Alex Verdugo
3B: Justin Turner
RF: Cody Bellinger
2B: Max Muncy
CF: A.J. Pollock
SS: Corey Seager
C: Russell Martin
P: Hyun-Jin Ryu
SS: Trea Turner
RF: Adam Eaton
3B: Anthony Rendon
LF: Juan Soto
1B: Howie Kendrick
C: Kurt Suzuki
2B: Brian Dozier
CF: Victor Robles
P: Anibal Sanchez