- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2016

A look at the best-of-five National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals:

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Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Friday, at Washington (5:38 p.m., FS1); Game 2, Saturday, at Washington (4:08 p.m., FS1); Game 3, Monday, Oct. 10, at Los Angeles (TBA, FS1 or MLB Network); x-Game 4, Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Los Angeles (TBA, FS1); x-Game 5, Thursday, Oct. 13, at Washington (TBA, FS1).

x-if necessary.

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Season Series: Dodgers won 5-1.

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Projected Lineups:

Dodgers: 2B Chase Utley (.252, 14 HRs, 52 RBIs), SS Corey Seager (.308, 26, 72), 3B Justin Turner (.275, 27, 90), 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.285, 18, 90), C Yasmani Grandal (.228, 27, 72), RF Josh Reddick (.258, 2, 9 in 47 games with Dodgers; .296, 8, 28 with Oakland) or Yasiel Puig (.263, 11, 45 in 104 games), CF Joc Pederson (.246, 25, 68), LF Howie Kendrick (.255, 8, 40) or Andrew Toles (.314, 3, 16 in 47 games).

Nationals: CF Trea Turner (.342, 13, 40, 53 runs, 33 SBs in 73 games), LF Jayson Werth (.244, 21, 69, 139 Ks), RF Bryce Harper (.243, 24, 86), 2B Daniel Murphy (.347, 25, 104, 47 2Bs, 57 Ks), 3B Anthony Rendon (.270, 20, 85, 38 2Bs), 1B Ryan Zimmerman (.218, 15, 46) or Stephen Drew (.266, 8, 21), SS Danny Espinosa (.209, 24, 72, 174 Ks), C Pedro Severino (.321, 2, 4 in 28 ABs) or Jose Lobaton (.232, 3, 8 in 99 ABs).

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Starting Pitchers:

Dodgers: LH Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA, 172 Ks in 149 IP), LH Rich Hill (3-2, 1.83, 34 1/3 IP with Dodgers; 9-3, 2.25, 76 IP in 14 starts with Oakland), RH Kenta Maeda (16-11, 3.48, 179 Ks in 175 2/3 IP), LH Julio Urias (5-2, 3.39, 84 Ks in 77 IP).

Nationals: RH Max Scherzer (20-7, 2.96, MLB-high 284 Ks, 228 1/3 IP), RH Tanner Roark (16-10, 2.83, 210 IP), LH Gio Gonzalez (11-11, 4.57), RH Joe Ross (7-5, 3.43).

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Relievers:

Dodgers: RH Kenley Jansen (3-2, 1.83, career-high 47/53 saves), RH Pedro Baez (3-2, 3.04), RH Joe Blanton (7-2, 2.48), LH Luis Avilan (3-0, 3.20), RH Ross Stripling (5-9, 3.96), RH Chris Hatcher (5-4, 5.53).

Nationals: RH Mark Melancon (2-2, 1.64, 47/51 saves, 75 games, 65 Ks, 71 1/3 IP with Pirates and Nationals), RH Shawn Kelley (3-2, 2.64, 7 saves, 80 Ks, 58 IP), RH Blake Treinen (4-1, 2.28, 1 save, 63 Ks, 67 IP), RH Matt Belisle (0-0, 1.76, 46 IP), RH Reynaldo Lopez (5-3, 4.91, 11 games, 6 starts), LH Sammy Solis (2-4, 2.42, 47 Ks, 41 IP), LH Oliver Perez (2-3, 4.95, 46 Ks, 40 IP), RH Yusmeiro Petit (3-5, 4.50, 1 save, 62 IP).

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Matchups:

The Dodgers and Nationals have never faced each other in the postseason, but Los Angeles did play the Montreal Expos in the 1981 NLCS, winning the best-of-five series 3-2 long before the franchise moved to Washington. … After clinching the NL West title, the Dodgers lost five of six during the final week of the season, costing them a shot at home-field advantage in this series. That could be important because they went 53-28 at home and 38-43 on the road this season. … The Dodgers outscored the Nats 26-21 in the season series, including a three-game sweep at home. … Scherzer did not face the Dodgers this season. … One key to the series could be how the Nationals’ starting pitchers other than Scherzer do, particularly Gonzalez, who struggled much of the year but gets to face a Dodgers lineup that does not fare well against lefties. … The architect of the Dodgers, Stan Kasten, helped build the Nationals from a 100-loss team to a playoff participant while he was their president. … Nationals manager Dusty Baker played for the Dodgers from 1976-82; his first base coach, Davey Lopes, was a teammate in Los Angeles.

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Big Picture:

Dodgers: With a $234 million opening day payroll, highest in the majors, Los Angeles (91-71) reached the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in Dave Roberts’ first season as manager. The Dodgers have won four straight NL West titles, a first for the storied franchise, and surpassed 90 wins for the fourth season in a row. But they are still looking for their first trip to the World Series since Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser & Co. won it all as big underdogs in 1988. Los Angeles was beaten in the NLCS three times from 2008-13, then lost in the NLDS each of the past two years. … Roberts and Tom Lasorda (1977) are the only rookie managers to lead the club to a division title. … Gonzalez had 90 RBIs for the 10th consecutive season, becoming the only major leaguer to do so. … Grandal, Seager, Justin Turner and Pederson gave the Dodgers four players with 25 or more home runs for the fourth time in franchise history and first since 1997. … The Dodgers put 28 players on the disabled list this season, the most for any team since at least 1987. … Roberts used a franchise record-tying 55 players, including 31 pitchers. … Seager’s 193 hits were the most by a big league rookie since 2001. … Dodgers pitchers recorded 1,510 strikeouts, a major league record.

Nationals: Washington (95-67) won the NL East for the third time in five years, each time with a different manager - in 2016, with Baker in his first year with the team; in 2014, with Matt Williams; in 2012, with Davey Johnson. But the team has yet to win a playoff series, losing the NLDS to St. Louis four years ago, then San Francisco two years ago. This time, Washington led nearly wire-to-wire, briefly sitting in second place in early May before taking over first in the division for good and never really being challenged. The strength of the team most of the way was its starting rotation, anchored by Scherzer, a strong contender to add an NL Cy Young Award to the 2013 AL honor he won for Detroit. But the team’s top pitcher for the first half of the season was Stephen Strasburg, who finished the year on the disabled list and is unavailable for the NLDS. GM Mike Rizzo, who famously shut down the right-hander before the 2012 playoffs to protect his surgically repaired arm, says it’s possible Strasburg could pitch if the Nationals advance. There are big questions about the lineup right now because of some injury concerns. Coming off his unanimous selection as 2015 NL MVP, Harper took a step back. He missed four games late with a sore left thumb, then went 1 for 11 with 8 Ks in the last three games of the regular season. Murphy hasn’t started since Sept. 17 because of a strained glute muscle and it’s not clear how healthy he’ll be against Los Angeles. All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos is done for the season after tearing up his right knee in September. After all sorts of bullpen problems in the team’s previous two trips to the playoffs, Rizzo added Melancon at the trade deadline.

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Watch For:

- Ace In The Hole. As sensational as Kershaw has been throughout his career, he’s struggled in the postseason. The three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP is 2-6 with a 4.59 ERA in seven playoff series since 2008. He was 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA against the Mets in last year’s NLDS, which the Dodgers lost in five games. It remains to be seen if they would start him on three days’ rest in a potential Game 4 against the Nats. Kershaw missed more than two months with a back injury before returning in September. While he was out, the Dodgers surged into first place past slumping San Francisco.

- Young Star. Trea Turner added energy, elite speed and some surprising pop to the Nationals’ lineup when he became a fixture in the leadoff spot during the summer. He’s only 23 and inexperienced, yes - just 347 major league at-bats - and is learning a new position (center field) on the fly after being a middle infielder. But he might be Washington’s biggest threat on offense at the moment.

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