The Los Angeles Dodgers are one win away from advancing to their fourth straight National League Championship Series, while the Washington Nationals are sending their ace to the mound in the hopes of staving off elimination and forcing a do-or-die Game 5. Here is a preview for Monday night’s Game 4 matchup in Washington D.C., along with a prediction for the game.
Dodgers Display Depth In Series
Trailing 2-1 in the visiting ballpark, the Dodgers scored a whopping seven runs in the sixth inning during Sunday night’s Game 3. Russell Martin and Enrique Hernandez each had RBI doubles in the inning before Justin Turner’s three-run homer broke the game wide open. The inning showcased Los Angeles’ depth, where any one batter can do damage at any point in the ballgame.
For Monday, expect to see a balanced Dodgers lineup against the dominant Max Scherzer. Turner has homered off of the ace pitcher in the past and has been swinging a hot bat all series, so expect to see him in the middle of the order once again. L.A. could also move Chris Taylor into the starting lineup to replace A.J. Pollock, who is 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts this series. Other than that, expect manager Dave Roberts to trot out the regulars in a potential series-clinching game, including Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, and Corey Seager.
On the mound, the Dodgers will turn to the 39-year old Rich Hill. The lefty has been hurt for most of the last three months, making only three appearances since June. He has been effective when healthy this season, going 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 58 2/3 innings. However, Hill will likely be capped at four innings, giving way to a long reliever like Ross Stripling to take over.
Nationals Need Offense To Wake Up
Three games into the series, the Nationals’ offense has yet to find its swing. The lineup has posted a collective slash line of .189/.270/.279 and has scored only eight runs in three games. Juan Soto was the Nationals’ primary catalyst on offense Sunday, going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer early in the game to give Washington the lead. However, the team missed opportunities for insurance runs before having to play from behind after the Dodgers exploded in the sixth inning.
It’s now or never for the Nationals, so they’ll put out their best offensive lineup in an attempt to extend this series. Several players have had a good amount of success against Hill, especially Ryan Zimmerman, who is 6-for-11 with two homers lifetime against the southpaw. Anthony Rendon, Adam Eaton, and Howie Kendrick each have multiple hits against Hill in their careers, so expect all to be in the lineup.
Scherzer gets the start for the Nationals, pitching in his second elimination game at home this week. He was hit hard to start the Wild Card Game against Milwaukee, giving up two home runs, so having a better beginning will be essential for the former Cy Young winner.
Overall, he is 11-7 with a 2.92 ERA and 243 strikeouts in 172 1/3 innings in 2019. He had just one start this season against the Dodgers, firing seven strong innings and allowing two runs but also threw a scoreless eighth inning on Friday night in relief.
The Nationals need a dominant outing out of Scherzer in Game 4. While I think Scherzer will deliver a strong performance, L.A.’s ability to work counts and grind out hits will definitely play to its advantage and give it a couple runs off of the Washington ace. I also think Hill and the bullpen will be solid and continue to shut down a cold Nationals lineup. Give me the Dodgers +114 to finish this series off and advance to the next round.