Preview: Will Smith In Lineup As Dodgers Go For Series Win Against Nationals
Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith hits a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers kicked off their six-game road trip on a positive note, defeating the Washington Nationals, 4-2, in Friday’s series opener at Nationals Park. The win improved the club to an excellent 17-5 against National League East opponents this season.

Moreover, the victory helped L.A. snap a two-game losing streak. Despite the brief skid, they continue boasting the best record in all of baseball at 68-37.

The Nationals, on the other hand, are in the midst of a two-game losing streak themselves. At 55-48, they trail the first-place Atlanta Braves by 5.5 games in the NL East standings, though still hold the second spot for the NL Wild Card Game.

Clayton Kershaw makes his 18th start of the season and looks for continued success in the month of July. In three starts, he has compiled a 1-0 record, 0.95 ERA and 0.79 WHIP with 26 strikeouts against four walks over 19 innings pitched.

Kershaw is coming off a dominating outing against the Miami Marlins in which he tossed six scoreless innings while accumulating 10 strikeouts — his first double-digit strikeout performance of the season.

In 17 overall starts, Kershaw is 8-2 with a 2.84 ERA, 3.46 FIP and 1.02 WHIP across 111 innings pitched. The three-time Cy Young Award winner enters with an 11-3 record, 2.18 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in 16 career appearances against the Nationals (15 starts).

Washington counters with Matt Grace, a reliever by trade who makes only the second start of his career. The 2019 season has been a struggle for the 30-year-old, who enters with an 0-2 record, 6.23 ERA, 5.20 FIP and 1.46 WHIP in 39 innings of work (44 appearances).

A five-year veteran, Grace has only faced the Dodgers on four occasions. He has posted a 6.23 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with six strikeouts compared to one walk in 4.1 innings against Los Angeles.

Joe Ross, who was initially scheduled to start for the Nationals on Saturday, will presumably piggyback Grace after the first inning.

Will Smith, freshly promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City, makes his first start with the Dodgers since June 25. He is expected to receive the majority of starts at catcher going forward.

Dodgers lineup:

LF: Alex Verdugo
3B: Justin Turner
CF: A.J. Pollock
RF: Cody Bellinger
2B: Max Muncy
SS: Corey Seager
C: Will Smith
1B: Joc Pederson
P: Clayton Kershaw

Nationals lineup:

SS: Trea Turner
RF: Adam Eaton
3B: Anthony Rendon
LF: Juan Soto
1B: Howie Kendrick
2B: Brian Dozier
C: Yan Gomes
P: Matt Grace
CF: Victor Robles