Nationals @ Dodgers April 11, 2021: Kershaw vs. Scherzer

After a comfortable 9-5 win last night, the Dodgers (7-2) are looking for their third straight win and a series sweep over the Washington Nationals (1-4). Two of the best pitchers of the last decade are on the mound for their respective teams in Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. It’s always an exciting time to have these two matchup, with a combined six Cy Young awards between them over the last ten seasons.

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1:10 P.M. Los Angeles
CF Robles 2B Lux (L)
SS Turner SS Seager (L)
RF Soto (L) 3B Turner
1B Zimmerman 1B Muncy (L)
2B Mercer CF Taylor
3B Castro RF Ríos (L)
LF Hernandez (L) LF McKinstry (L)
C Lucroy C Barnes
P Scherzer P Kershaw (L)

Mookie Betts will miss his fourth consecutive game while nursing a back issue, so Chris Taylor will remain in center field in the absence of both Betts and Cody Bellinger. Gavin Lux will slide up from seventh in the order yesterday back to the leadoff position. Edwin Rios will be the starting right fielder, making his first MLB start in the outfield. He played a handful of innings in the outfield in AAA back in 2019, so it’s not completely foreign territory for him, but it’s not a position you’d expect to see him at in game ten. AJ Pollock would have a tough matchup today with Scherzer on the mound, and he’s also played in every game besides the season opener, so getting him a day off makes sense. As usual, Will Smith will have the day off as Austin Barnes will be catching for Kershaw.

The Nationals will run out a very similar lineup as yesterday with the changes limited to replacing Hernan Perez with Yadiel Hernandez in left field, and Jonathan Lucroy replacing Yan Gomes behind the plate.

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Here’s how Kershaw and Scherzer match up with their 2020 stats.

The now 36 year-old Scherzer was more or less still himself last season, and had a stronger season than indicated by his 3.74 ERA. His 31.2% strikeout rate was tenth among all qualified starters, and just in line with what he’d posted the previous three seasons. He had a career low ground-ball rate at 33.0%, which was the lowest of his career and all qualified starters, and the highest BABIP against him at .355, the second highest in the league. In his first start of the season he allowed five hits and four runs, all of which coming from solo home runs. He also struck out nine and walked none over six innings.

Kershaw has now made two starts, and after a shaky first outing at Coors Field, he had a very impressive performance against the Oakland Athletics last week. He allowed just one run on four hits while striking out eight over seven innings. That now gives him a 1-1 record, with a 4.26 ERA but just a 1.85 FIP. Through two starts he’s throwing more sliders and less fastballs than ever in his career. He’s throwing his fastball just 37.5% of the time compared to 40.8% last season, and his slider usage is up to 46.4% from 40.2% last year. We’ll see how that develops throughout the season, it could’ve been a matchup decision against the A’s, or a legitimate shift in his pitching.

While Kershaw and Scherzer have matched up a few times, neither has been their dominant selves in those meetings.

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It’s still seeming unlikely that Betts would end up on the IL, and with a scheduled day off tomorrow before Colorado comes to Los Angeles, it makes sense that they’d hope he manages to return Tuesday.

As Eric states, this would lineup the front three of the rotation for the first series of the season against the San Diego Padres.

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First pitch is at 1:10 PM PT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!