LOS ANGELES – The Washington Nationals were fortunate to win the National League Wild Card Game and their reward is a meeting with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series. Game 1 of the best-of-five set is Thursday at Dodger Stadium with Washington scoring a 4-3 comeback victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday when rookie right fielder Trent Grisham misplayed Juan Soto's bases-loaded single in the eighth inning, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
TV: 8:37 p.m. ET, TBS
"The thing about the playoffs, especially the situation we're in, you can't really predict what's going to happen,'' Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg told reporters after contributing three scoreless innings of relief Tuesday. "You can't look into a crystal ball. You just gotta enjoy the moment and be present." Washington on Thursday gives the ball to Patrick Corbin, who makes his first postseason appearance after Max Scherzer started the wild card game and Strasburg kept the Nationals within striking distance. Los Angeles, which won its seventh straight NL West title by 21 games, begins its quest for a third straight World Series appearance with Walker Buehler on the mound. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had his choice of three aces with Clayton Kershaw expected to start Game 2 and NL Cy Young contender Hyun-jin Ryu on the hill for Game 3.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals LH Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.25 ERA) vs. Dodgers RH Walker Buehler (14-4, 3.26)
Corbin had a string of three straight quality starts snapped when he allowed six runs and seven hits (three homers) with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings against Cleveland on Saturday. The 30-year-old New York native matched a season high in wins in his first year with Washington while reaching 200 innings for the third time in his career. Corbin yielded three hits and four walks while striking out eight in seven innings of a 6-0 victory at Dodger Stadium on May 9 and was 4-9 with a 3.59 ERA in his first 20 games (18 starts) against Los Angeles while with Arizona.
Buehler had a 2.10 ERA in his first 12 starts at home this season before permitting 10 runs in 11 innings over his final two starts at Dodger Stadium - both against Colorado. The 25-year-old Kentucky native last pitched Friday, when he allowed two runs, five hits and four walks with eight strikeouts over five innings of a 9-2 victory at San Francisco. Brian Dozier is 3-for-5 with a home run versus Buehler, who pitched seven scoreless innings against Washington in Los Angeles' 5-2 loss at Dodger Stadium on May 11.
1. Los Angeles RF and NL MVP favorite Cody Bellinger (.305, 47 home runs, 115 RBIs this season) is batting .172 with four home runs and 45 strikeouts in 116 playoff at-bats.
2. The Nationals, who lost 31 of their first 50 contests this season, are riding a nine-game winning streak.
3. Los Angeles won the season series 4-3 with the clubs splitting four games at Dodger Stadium - three ending in shutouts.
PREDICTION: Dodgers 3, Nationals 2