So now that we have those silly wild card games in the rear view, it’s time to get down to business in the MLB playoffs as the division series get underway. As day two of divisional play ramps up, it’s the National League’s turn to get their party started.
National League Division Series
Washington Nationals (97-65, NL #2 seed) vs Chicago Cubs (92-70, NL #3 seed)
Game 1: Kyle Hendricks (CHC) vs Stephen Strasburg (WASH)
Game 2: Jon Lester (CHC) vs Gio Gonzalez (WASH)
Game 3: Jose Quintana (CHC) vs Max Scherzer (WASH)
Game 4: Jake Arrieta (CHC) vs TBD (WASH) *if necessary
Game 5: TBD (CHC) vs TBD (WASH) *if necessary
These may be the two most talented clubs in the NL, but there are questions abound for both.
For the Nationals, health is first and foremost. Bryce Harper is fresh off the DL after a knee injury that caused him to miss significant time, and since his return to the line up he’s just 3 for 22. In addition, Nats ace and problem NL Cy Young Max Scherzer is currently nursing a hamstring injury and where/when he will pitch in this series is currently up in the air. We have him penciled in for game three, but the Nats haven’t to anything thus far other than Strasburg going in game one.
The second question for the Nationals is whether or not they can get over the hump. We’ve been hearing for roughly five years now how the Nats are going to win the Series, and they’ve yet to even make an appearance. Is this the year they finally live up to their ample potential?
Meanwhile, we all know the Cubs reached the mountaintop last season. They got off to a slow start this year and were hovering around the .500 mark at the mid-point, but played much better in the second half and finally took control over the NL Central that they dominated in 2016.
Other than the additions of closer Wade Davis and starter Jose Quintana, this club looks a lot like the 2016 team, but they seem just a step slower in just about every facet. They do bring the experience that comes from raising the trophy though, and that counts for something. Can they rediscover the form that saw them take home the trophy last season?
While we’re still skeptical of the Nationals overall ability to take the National League, we see the Cubs as being a little over matched in this one. If Scherzer is somehow unable to go or is ineffective when he does that may tip the scales, but for now we see Washington advancing in a series that goes the distance.
Washington wins 3-2, advances to NLCS.
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