LOS ANGELES – Clayton Kershaw was bypassed as the opening-game starter but has a chance to pitch the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 2-0 lead when they host the Washington Nationals in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Friday night. The decision worked well as Walker Buehler pitched six shutout innings in a 6-0 victory Thursday of the best-of-five set and now Kershaw gets the call against Washington standout Stephen Strasburg.
TV: 9:37 p.m. ET, TBS
Max Muncy drove in three runs, including a key bases-loaded, two-run single in the seventh inning, while Gavin Lux (first career playoff at-bat) and Joc Pederson slugged eighth-inning homers as Los Angeles cruised in Game 1. "One of the biggest things is these are big games, they're big moments and you got to try to go out there and enjoy them as much as possible because you don't know how many there are going to be," Muncy said during a postgame press conference. "And when you do that you tend to relax and just play the game. For me that's the key is just try to go out there and have fun and enjoy it." Strasburg is starting Game 2 after making his first career relief appearance and pitching three shutout innings in Tuesday's NL wild-card win over the Milwaukee Brewers. "That's kind of the nature of the business," Strasburg said during his Thursday press conference. "Sometimes you're going to have to deal with some things that you wouldn't expect and bottom line is you still have to go out there and compete."
Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (18-6, 3.32 ERA) vs. Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (16-5, 3.03)
Strasburg threw 34 pitches - 26 for strikes - while allowing two hits and striking out four and picking up the win in the relief cameo. "For me it's like he threw a side (session) of 34 pitches with intensity," Washington manager Dave Martinez said during a press conference. "That's the way I looked at it the other day. So he says he feels really good, so he's ready to go." Strasburg was 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this season and is 3-5 with a 2.54 ERA in 11 career turns.
Kershaw served up a career-worst 28 homers and his ERA was his highest since a 4.26 mark during his rookie season of 2008. The 31-year-old allowed two runs and three hits over six innings while beating Washington on July 27, and stands 12-3 with a 2.23 ERA in 17 career appearances (16 starts) but said he has a healthy respect for the Nationals' lineup. "Up and down the lineup they got a ton of guys that swing the bat well," Kershaw said during a press conference. "And that's what you see in the postseason, you see great lineups. And there's not one way to get a guy out, you just have to continue to make pitches all the way through."
1. Dodgers CF A.J. Pollock, who struck out three times in four at-bats and drew a walk in Game 1, is 7-for-14 with a homer against Strasburg.
2. Washington RHP Hunter Strickland served up the homers to Lux and Pederson and has allowed eight in 12 career postseason innings.
3. Four Los Angeles pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts during Thursday's two-hit shutout.
PREDICTION: Nationals 5, Dodgers 3