The Nationals are back in the playoffs, after a very disappointing 2015, for the third time in the Bryce Harper era (yes, I’m calling it that). Their 95 wins were good enough for them to host the NL West winning Dodgers in the 1st round, who have won 90+ games for the fourth straight year. The best way to describe this matchup is a battle between two of the best teams in the National League, not just this year but for the past few. Should be a good one.
The Nationals finished with a top ten offense, largely due to the fantastic season of Daniel Murphy, who picked up right where he left off during last year’s incredible postseason he had with the Mets. But think where this offense would be if Bryce Harper came close to replicating his MVP season just a year ago. If Harper can play like 2015 Harper, then watch out. Aside from those two guys, the Nats got great contributions from Wilson Ramos (who will not play due to injury) and rookie Trea Turner (who will definitely play).
While the offense is more than solid, pitching is the true strength of this team. They’ve got Max Scherzer, one of the game’s best, heading the rotation followed by Tanner Roark who was great in his return to the rotation. Behind them is Gio Gonzalez, coming off his worst season in Washington, and second year starter Joe Ross. There’s a lot of talent between those two is a lot of talent but a lot of uncertainty. But those four combined might just be the best playoff rotation.
Over the course of the whole season, the Dodgers weren’t as potent on offense as Washington but they really turned it on after the All-Star break, scoring the fifth most runs over that span. The brilliant performance of rookie Corey Seager all season long really kept them afloat until Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal figured it out halfway through the season. If the Dodgers second half lineup shows up, they’re going to give the Nationals’s pitchers some problems, especially their righties as the Dodgers are stacked with left handed hitters.
The Dodgers pitching was top notch, which isn’t a surprise to anyone. However, they did it with 15 starters and with Clayton Kershaw making only 21 starts. But those were some good starts. I’m not sure people realize how dominant Kershaw was this year because he missed so much time. This really was his best season though. Will he finally get it done in the playoffs? Maybe the extra rest will help him out.
The Pick: Dodgers in 5
Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball without a doubt. This is the year he dominates the postseason. If he wins games 1 and 5, the Dodgers would just need one other win.