The Los Angeles Dodgers will begin 2019 postseason play Thursday by playing host to the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of a best-of-five National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium.
Right-hander Walker Buehler will be the Dodgers starting pitcher. Left-hander Patrick Corbin will start for the Nationals.
“We just felt that with Walker getting an opportunity to pitch the first game, also potentially a Game 5, gives us the best chance to win, regardless of the opponent,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Buehler called it “kind of an honor” to be the pitcher beginning the postseason for the Dodgers, “but around here I don’t know if one, two or three really matters. It’s more about pitching for this team in the playoffs. And I think the order’s a little bit less significant than people want to make it out to be and I’m just excited to get to pitch.”
Buehler was 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA during the regular season. He was 0-1 in two starts against Washington. He pitched seven shutout innings against the Nationals May 11 at Dodger Stadium, getting a no decision in a 5-2 loss. Buehler allowed seven runs — four earned — in 5 1/3 innings and was charged with the loss in an 11-4 loss at Washington July 28.
“His stuff is electric and when you have electric stuff maybe you don’t know how to use it to your full advantage,” Dodger outfielder Cody Bellinger said. “He knows how to use it to his full advantage. And he scouts hitters, understands weaknesses. His stuff is not fun to face, but when you have a dude behind it that knows what he’s doing, it’s even better.”
Corbin was 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA during the regular season. In his only regular-season appearance against the Dodgers, he allowed three hits in seven shutout innings and was credited with the victory in a 6-0 victory May 9.
Corbin has allowed two runs or fewer in 11 of his 19 starts against the Dodgers, including all five in 2018 and 2019.
Corbin will be pitching in the postseason for the first time.
“A big reason why I wanted to come here (was) to have an opportunity to pitch in games like this,” said Corbin, who signed with the Nationals during the off-season as a free agent after spending the first seven seasons of his major league career with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers were 30-22 when opponents started a left-handed pitcher during the regular season for a .577 winning percentage while they were 76-34 when opponents started a right-hander, a .691 winning percentage.
The Dodgers won a franchise-record 106 games in winning their seventh consecutive National League West championship, including a seven-game winning streak to conclude the regular season.
Washington won its final eight regular-season games to secure a wild card playoff berth with a 93-69 record, then rallied for three runs in the eighth inning in a 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League wild card game Tuesday in Washington.
The Dodgers and Nationals had the two best run differentials in the National League, with the Dodgers outscoring their opponents by 273 runs and Washington by 149.
The Dodgers run of division titles has resulted in just two National League pennants — in 2017 and 2018 — and no World Series championships. The Dodgers have not won a World Series since 1988.
The Nationals have lost all four division series they have played in since moving to Washington in 2005, including a five-game loss to the Dodgers in 2016.
After setting a single-season franchise attendance record this year, the Dodgers will honor longtime season ticket members with ceremonial first pitches during the NLDS. Lorraine Bradley, a daughter of the late Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, will throw Thursday’s ceremonial first pitch. The Bradley family has held season tickets since 1958, the Dodgers first season in Los Angeles.
Blues and Southern soul singer Charles Jones will sing the national anthem.
The Dodgers will have a bobblehead giveaway at a postseason game for the first time, with the first 40,000 fans in attendance receiving a bobblehead of Bellinger in his home run trot. It will be available in both his home white uniform and road grays. Distribution will depend on what is available at the point of entry.
The unprecedented bobblehead giveaway is a “thank you to Dodger fans” for setting the single-season franchise attendance record, a team official told City News Service. Bellinger was chosen to be depicted in recognition of his MVP-caliber season, the official said.
Auto Gates will open at 3:10 p.m. and stadium gates at 3:40 p.m. Pregame activities will begin at 5 p.m. for the 5:37 p.m. game.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early, purchase parking in advance, carpool or take a ride-hailing service.
Postseason ticket information is available at Dodgers.com/Postseason.
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