Nationals @ Dodgers April 22, 2018: LA goes for .500 (again) on Sunday Night Baseball

Good Wood can get Dodgers to .500. (Photo: Stacie Wheeler)

The Dodgers (9-10) will try not to embarrass themselves in front of a national audience on Sunday evening when they go for the series win against the Nationals (10-11) in the rubber game. The .500 mark continues to elude them, but they’ll have a solid shot again at it with Alex Wood on the mound.

Nationals
Dodgers
5:05 PM
Los Angeles
SS
Turner
2B
Taylor
2B
Kendrick
SS
Seager
RF
Harper
C
Grandal
1B
Zimmerman
1B
Bellinger
CF
Taylor
LF
Pederson
LF
Sierra
RF
Puig
C
Severino 2B Utley
3B
Difo
3B
Muncy
P
Hellickson (R)
P
Wood (L)

Wood (0-2, 3.91 ERA, 1.93 FIP) makes his fifth start of the year, and the left-hander has been good so far. He has a 0.74 WHIP, best on the team for a starter. The lefty has struck out 22 batters in 23 innings, and he’s only walked one guy and allowed one home run.

Last time out against the Padres in San Diego, he pitched well enough to win but wasn’t involved in the decision, striking out seven and allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings. Overall against the Nationals, Wood’s 4-3 with a 2.51 ERA in 10 career games.

The Dodgers were able to get to Stephen Strasburg to tie the series on Saturday night, and now they look to get back to some more offense against right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 3.86 ERA, 2.51 FIP). This will be Hellickson’s first career start at Dodger Stadium. He took over the fifth spot in the Nats’ rotation to replace A.J. Cole.

The 31-year old Hellickson struggled in 2017 with a 5.43 ERA, 5.77 FIP, 47 walks, and 96 strikeouts in 30 starts (164 IP) with the Orioles and Phillies before being picked up by the Nats in March.

Hellickson worked on a couple of adjustments to his delivery and stayed in extended Spring Training in West Palm Beach before getting called up to make his first start at Citi Field against the Mets. He allowed seven hits, struck out three, and walked one in 4 2/3 innings.

The Dodgers somehow got to Strasburg after Clayton Kershaw was bested by Max Scherzer. Hellickson is certainly no Scherzer or Strasburg, but if we’ve learned anything, the Dodgers will probably be no-hit or something. Hellickson has made four career starts against the Dodgers and is 0-1 with a 6.88 ERA. The last time the Dodgers faced him was on August 10, 2016 when he was with Philadelphia. The Nats won 6-2, but once again he wasn’t involved in the decision after allowing one run on three hits through five innings.

Matt Kemp, who had the day off Saturday, is hitting .318 and slugging .591 seven hits including a double, a triple, and a home run against Hellickson in 22 at-bats.

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Sliding into Your DMs like…

Photo: Janine Roach

The Dodgers have only five stolen bases — and have been caught four times — on the season, ranking them at the very bottom in baseball. The Nationals lead the majors with 23 swiped bags.

The Dodgers stole 77 bases on 2017, 32 more than 2016 and 18 more than 2015. I don’t expect the Dodgers to return to 2014 levels when they had Dee Gordon and led the NL with 138 swiped bases, but there’s guys on the team now who do have some speed. Joc Pederson stole 114 bases in the minors, but he’s only 14 bases at the Major League level. Chris Taylor, Austin Barnes and Enrique Hernandez also have some speed. Kemp has regained some speed as well, according to some guy.

Their running game is a glaring weakness, and it would seem productive to at least attempt to improve in that area in order to maximize the offense they do have. Yasiel Puig stole second base, his third of the season, off Strasburg in the fifth inning on Saturday. Chase Utley is the only other Dodger to have a stolen base on the season. He has two. The caveat to all of this is that they have to get on base to steal a base.

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Walker Buehler Won’t Have A Day Off

Buehler appeared in eight games out of the bullpen for the Dodgers last September, picking up his first win in the Majors on September 21 vs. Philadelphia. He allowed eight runs on 11 hits with 12 strikeouts and eight walks in 9 1/3 innings. He’s 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in three starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City this year. The 23-year old right-hander has struck out 16 and walked four in 13 innings.

Tomorrow will be a treat, but let’s win this one tonight first.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.