2016 NLDS Preview

Dodgers vs. Nationals

This is an extremely difficult series to predict because both teams are pretty evenly matched.  But its also difficult because whoever wins is most likely going home in the next round.

Los Angeles survived losing Clayton Kershaw for a good amount of the year by starting a million different guys and getting great offense.  However, the Dodgers have to thank the Giants for suffering one of the worst second half collapses ever.  The two teams were in a pretty close race for the NL West title until the Giants’ demise.

Washington had the season they should’ve had last year.  Health was finally on their side (at least until now).  Daniel Murphy proved that last October wasn’t just a one-month fling, putting up a MVP caliber season.  Trea Turner was a joy to watch bloom, hitting .342 in 73 games.

The Nationals were extremely consistent, but as of late, injuries have them scrambling come this series.

Wilson Ramos’ season ending ACL injury sucks.  He was their third best player this year via Fangraphs’ WAR, being an extremely solid hitter and a good defensive catcher.  With his injury, the Nationals are now forced to go to Jose Lobaton, who owns a putrid slash line, and rookie Pedro Severino.

Thats a tad problematic.  Even though Washington’s rotation is still very good, Stephen Strasburg will miss this series due to an arm injury.  That may force Gio Gonzalez, who owns a 4.57 ERA this season, the highest in the Nationals’ rotation, into more of a role in this series.

Gonzalez isn’t totally a liability though.  He’s the Nationals’ only left handed pitcher.  Why is that significant?  I’m not a big believer in right/left-handed splits.  I think its a tad ridiculous that hitters can hit one arm but not the other, but the Dodgers hitting problem against left handers is too big to ignore.  So, in the case that Gonzalez does pitch against the Dodgers, the Nationals shouldn’t be as concerned with him taking the mound.

The Dodgers rotation is taking nice shape for the postseason.  Clayton Kershaw is back, which is kinda a big deal.  I’m stoked for Kenta Maeda’s postseason debut; I knew he was gonna have an awesome year the first time I saw him pitch in April.

Those two guys are certainly the go-tos.  After that, its a mishmosh of other starters.  But thats not exactly a bad thing!  Rich Hill was fantastic since being traded by the A’s.  Rookie Julio Urias had a 3.25 ERA in 16 starts; I think he gets the 4th rotation spot on the postseason roster.

These Dodgers’ starters are really good, and if I’m the banged up Nationals lineup, I want no part of it.

While Washington’s rotation is talented, the Dodgers have more guys I can trust.  For example, I’d rather have Kenta Maeda over Tanner Roark.  Or Julio Urias over Gio Gonzalez, even though Urias is very inexperienced.

Thats where I think the loss of Strasburg really hurts Washington.  They’re lacking that 2nd really good starter.  The Dodgers have that and more.  Thats the difference in this series.

Prediction: Dodgers in 5

Giants vs. Cubs

San Francisco survived the Mets only to run into the Cubs, who are the best team we’ve seen in baseball in a long time.

The Giants got frustrated against Noah Syndergaard.  The umpiring didn’t help, as Mike Winters’ strike zone was extremely spread out, but tight at  the top and bottom.

I’d expect the same frustration from the Giants in this series.  Noah Syndergaard is fantastic, but the Cubs have two NL Cy Young worthy guys in Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta.  Jon Lester and John Lackey fill out the rest of their rotation.

Though the Giants offense is extremely good, the Cubs rotation is better.  And if the Giants get results like they did in the Wild Card Game, this series will not go well for them.

San Francisco has a good enough starting rotation to make it this postseason.  Its better than say, Cleveland’s, or what the Orioles had going for them pre-AL Wild Card Game.  However, guys like Jeff Samardzija are subject to meltdown.  Its been a nice recovery year for him, but he’s not a guy I 100% trust in the playoffs.  Johnny Cueto is another one, though it’d be pretty surprising to see after the season he has had.

Even though the Giants have good starting pitching, its the only department of their team that comes close in quality to the Cubs.  San Francisco’s bullpen has been a nightmare this season, and the offense will struggle against pitchers this good.

There is a case for the Giants to make a run this postseason.  Its #EvenYear, first of all.  But facing the Cubs just couldn’t have broke worse for this team.  The Cubs are anyone’s nightmare, but San Francisco has too many weaknesses to have a chance in this series.

Prediction: Cubs in 3