Playoff baseball is officially in full swing as the ALDS games occurred last night and today we have four games of Divisional Series action on the docket. I already previewed the ALDS matchups yesterday and as promised, I have my NLDS Preview ready for you today, just in time.
Washington Nationals vs Los Angeles Dodgers
So Bryce Harper statistically had his best season in 2015 and won NL MVP honors but the Nationals didn’t make the playoffs. Then Bryce had an underwhelming 2016 campaign batting only 0.243 with 24 homers but the Nationals make the playoffs easily. Washington has Daniel Murphy, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg to thank for that, and after the Nats acquired closer Mark Melancon from Pittsburgh they finally found the missing piece to their bullpen that compliments their pitching rotation. Also, Trea Turner who is a shortstop by nature but can be found in centerfield has been playing extremely well for not just a rookie but an everyday player, batting 0.342 in 73 games of play. The Dodgers will be tough to beat though, Clayton Kershaw is back and I think this is the year he’ll own the postseason. This series will be about as even as them come and the marquee pitching matchup for game one between Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw will be appointment television. Even as I’m writing this I still haven’t really decided which team I am going to chose myself. I’m definitely curious to see whether or not Daniel Murphy’s 2015 playoff success is here to stay or whether like Vanilla Ice, Murphy is just a one-hit wonder. Both the Nationals and the Dodgers have been victims of great regular seasons coupled with disappointing postseasons but one of them will reach the NLCS this year. The key for the Dodgers is just to play like they both can and have been playing, don’t overthink anything just because it is October. The key for the Nationals is for their second and third tier players to play a more important role than expected in the Divisional Series
Los Angeles Dodgers X-Factors: Justin Turner and Clayton Kershaw
Washington Nationals X-Factors: Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez.
Prediction: Dodgers over Nationals (3-1)
Chicago Cubs vs San Francisco Giants
Well, the NL Wild Card game between the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets sure lived up to the billing. But, there can only be one winner and that winner was the Giants. Although the Giants are able to lean on Madison Bumgarner, he will most likely not pitch again until Game Three where he would face off against 2015 NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. I’m not too concerned with Mad Bum because he is basically a lock for a complete game shutout it seems. I am more concerned with the rest of the San Francisco pitching staff and whether or not they can keep up with the Chicago Cubs pitchers and more importantly, the Chicago Cubs hitters. The Cubs lineup is bottomless and is just littered with perennial MVP candidates including guys like Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo. But, their offense might not be their best asset due to a pitching group that boasts Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Aroldis Chapman. The Cubbies won an MLB best 103 games, running away with their division by 17.5 games. To most, the Cubs are the heavy favorites to win the Fall Classic but I’m not so convinced. I really like the Giants experience and frankly, their team. Buster Posey and Brandon Belt are going to lead the Giants offensively and take the Chicago Cubs as well as a lot of fans across the league by surprise.
San Francisco Giants X-Factors: Joe Panik and Johnny Cueto
Chicago Cubs X-Factors: Dexter Fowler and John Lackey
Prediction: Giants over Cubs (3-2)
What did you think of my predictions? Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below, on Twitter @N2KSports or on Facebook at N2K Sports.
Cover Photo via MLB.com