Washington Nationals (defeated Dodgers in 5) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (defeated Braves in 5)
Game 1- Friday, October 11th @ 8:08 in St. Louis, TBS
Game 2- Saturday, October 12th @ 4:08 in St. Louis, TBS
Game 3- Monday, October 14th, TBD, in Washington, TBS
Game 4- Tuesday, October 15th, TBD, in Washington, TBS
Game 5 (if necessary)- Wednesday, October 16th, TBD, in Washington, TBS
Game 6 (if necessary)- Friday, October 18th, TBD, in St. Louis, TBS
Game 7 (if necessary)- Sunday, October 19th, TBD, in St. Louis, TBS
The Nationals will enter their first NLCS since moving to D.C. from Montreal in 2005. Their dramatic upset over the Dodgers was completed by Howie Kendrick’s grand slam that gave the Nats a four run lead after back-to-back homers from Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon tied the game.
The Nats have been able to neutralize their shaky bullpen by deploying their starters out of the bullpen. All three of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin made appearances out of the ‘pen. With the exception of Game 3’s rocky appearance, the trio was able to help pick up the slack for the relievers and get the game to closer Sean Doolittle. After an up and down season, Doolittle has been good in the postseason so far, posting 3 1/3 innings with one run allowed and three strikeouts to no walks.
It will be interesting to see if this strategy will hold up over a longer series. However, the Nats offense seems up to the task of backing up their pitchers. Washington outscored the Dodgers 17-4 in their three wins in the NLDS.
Player to watch- Howie Kendrick
This feels like a no brainer after his dramatic grand slam. Despite some defensive struggles in the series, Kendrick was able to come up big when the the time came and send his team to the NLCS.
The Cardinals advanced to their first NLCS since 2014 after embarrassing the Braves 13-1 in Game 5 of the NLDS. They scored 10 runs in the first inning, an MLB postseason record. Jack Flaherty threw 6 innings of one run ball with 8 strikeouts to seal the deal.
The middle of the order was huge for the Cardinals in their series win. Paul Goldschmidt and Marcel Ozuna combined to go 18 for 42 with 7 doubles, 4 home runs, 7 RBIs, and three walks. Longtime backstop Yadier Molina won Game 4 in the bottom of the tenth with a sac fly.
The Cardinals were able to out-pitch the Braves to win. It will be much more difficult to do so against the Nationals. However, the Cardinals hold the advantage with a stronger bullpen that does not necessarily need the help of their top three starters like Washington. St. Louis will need other hitters besides Goldschmidt, Ozuna, and rookie Tommy Edman to contribute offensively.
Player to watch- Andrew Miller
Miller was a big free agent signee that struggled during the regular season with a 4.45 ERA in 73 appearances. However, the lefty reliever has thrown two scoreless innings total in the postseason and has been used in very high leverage situations. In 35 career innings over 25 postseason appearances in his career, Miller has a 1.03 ERA and 49 strikeouts.