Scherzer, Kershaw get the call to open Game 1 of NLDS
By Oliver Macklin
The Nationals are hosting the Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Division Series tonight, with all eyes on two former Cy Young Award winners taking the mound at Nationals Park, live on FS1 at 5:30 ET (2:30 PT).
The Nats hand the ball to right-hander Max Scherzer, who is seeking his first postseason win with Washington. The Dodgers send left-hander Clayton Kershaw to the hill looking to turn the table on his underwhelming postseason history.
Scherzer: 20-7, 2.96 ERA, 228 1/3 IP, 284 K
Kershaw: 12-4, 1.69 ERA, 149 IP, 172 K
Scherzer against the Dodgers
2016: Did not face
Career: 2-4, 3.29 ERA, 54 2/3 IP, 49 K
Loves to face: Adrian Gonzalez, 5-for-26, 1 RBI, 4 K
Hates to face: Andre Ethier, 8-for-24, 2 2B, HR, 2 BB, 3 RBIs
Why he'll win: Scherzer led the NL in innings pitched, strikeouts and wins on his way to another Cy Young Award-caliber season. He hurled a 20-strikeout complete game against Detroit on May 11, and he is a threat for double-digit strikeouts every time he takes the mound.
Pitcher beware: Scherzer's only weakness seems to be the long ball. The 32-year-old surrendered 31 home runs this season, tied for seventh most in the Majors.
Bottom line: Scherzer feeds off adrenaline and loves pitching when it matters most. Having the home crowd at Nationals Park behind him could be the key for Scherzer to guide Washington to victory
Kershaw against the Nationals
2016: 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 7 IP, 8 K
Career: 10-2, 2.02 ERA, 89 IP, 104 K
Loves to face: Bryce Harper, 1-for-15, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 10 K
Hates to face: Jayson Werth, 10-for-32, 2 HR, 2 RBIs, 4 BB
Why he'll win: Kershaw missed more than two months of the regular season with a herniated disk and still tied Mets flamethrower Noah Syndergaard for the Major League lead in fWAR among starting pitchers (6.5). His 1.69 ERA was the lowest for any MLB starter who threw a minimum of 140 innings.
Pitcher beware: If Kershaw's postseason history continues on its current path, the numbers suggest he could struggle against Washington. The lefty is 2-6 with a 4.59 ERA in 13 games (10 starts) in his postseason career.
Bottom line: In his return from injury, Kershaw didn't miss a beat, pitching to a 1.29 ERA in 28 innings (five starts) with a 27-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He's as ready for Game 1 as he could possibly be.
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.