Showdown at the Ravine for Dodgers, Nationals

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals are currently locked — whether they admit it or not — in a battle for home field advantage in the National League. The Nationals own the best record in the National League and have a one game lead with a two-game advantage in the loss column over the Dodgers.

Playing at home might not make a difference to this year’s Dodger team that has a record of 34-32 (.515) at Dodger Stadium. None of the 10 teams that have won less at home since the Dodgers moved west have made the playoffs. The worst home winning percentage by a Dodger playoff team came in 1995 when they were 39-33 (.542) and were swept in the first round by Cincinnati.

Though, even with baseball’s best road record this season at 43-28 (.606), the Dodgers are just 13-13 on the road against potential playoff teams in 2014. No matter how good the Dodgers have been on the road this season, trust that they would rather play more games at home come playoff time.

They will send Roberto Hernandez to the mound Monday evening with the task of continuing his success against the Nationals. In four career starts against Washington, the big right-hander is is 3-1 with a 1.19 ERA. The only loss came in 2007 when he was with Cleveland and he gave up three earned runs over six innings. He has yielded only one earned run in 24 1/3 innings in three starts since then.

In the two starts this year Hernandez allowed only one unearned run in 15 1/3 innings. In his last start with Philadelphia, Hernandez tossed eight solid innings to beat the Nationals 2-1 in Washington. The Dodgers are hoping for similar results to start their September as they come down the stretch.

The Dodgers are 23-11 against left-handed starters this year and will face another one Monday in Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 3.86). He is 0-5 with a 4.38 ERA in his last nine outings and hasn’t received a decision in his last three. Gonzalez is also 3-8 with a 4.10 since May 4 but is 0-1 with a 1.50 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers.

These teams each scored 10 runs back in May when Washington took two of three at home. The Nationals have dropped 19 of their last 23 at Dodger Stadium.