Washington Nationals (93-69, defeated Brewers in WC) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56, won NL West)
Game 1- Thursday, October 3rd @ 8:37 PM ET in Los Angeles, TBS
Game 2- Friday, October 4th @ 9:37 PM ET in Los Angeles, TBS
Game 3- Sunday, October 6th, Time TBA, in Washington, TBS
Game 4 (If Necessary)- Monday, October 7th, Time TBA, in Washington, TBS
Game 5 (If Necessary)- Wednesday, October 9th, Time TBA, in Los Angeles, TBS
The Nats were able to dig themselves out of an early 3-0 hole to win the Wild Card game and advance to their first postseason “series” since moving to Washington. Juan Soto’s base hit to right that turned into a bases clearing three-run-go-ahead double backed up Stephen Strasburg’s brilliant three innings (2 hits, no runs, 4 K’s) in relief of Max Scherzer.
They were able to mask their weak bullpen by utilizing Strasburg out of the ‘pen, but it will be much more difficult to do that in a five game series as opposed to a single game elimination. However, they do have Patrick Corbin likely starting Game 1 and Strasburg starting Game 2. Their starters will have to be at their best to neutralize the NL’s highest scoring offense.
Luckily for Washington, they have the second highest scoring offense in the NL. On Tuesday night in the Wild Card, Soto and Trea Turner (solo homer in the third) provided enough offense to erase Scherzer’s bad start. Scherzer, who will likely start Game 3, now has a 4.74 ERA over his last seven starts and a 4.81 ERA in the second half.
Player to watch- Sean Doolittle
The Nats’ closer didn’t have to appear in the Wild Card game, but he will most likely be called upon during the NLDS. Despite being the Nationals’ best reliever, Doolittle struggled mightily this season but rebounded a bit near the end, posting a 4.05 ERA and six blown saves. However, he has allowed 2 runs on 2 hits with 7 K’s over his last six innings pitched.
It is no surprise that the Dodgers are here. The back-to-back NL Champions (or World Series losers, however you want to put it) had the most wins in the NL and trailed the Astros by one win for the Majors’ best record. They are one of, if not, the most complete team in baseball.
Walker Buehler will take the ball in game one for the Dodgers. The 25-year-old right-hander went 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA this season. Buehler started four games during last year’s postseason, and in those four games he allowed a total of ten runs over 23 2/3 innings resulting in a 3.80 ERA. He also limited the opposition to a .190 average.
The Dodgers lineup is one of the most formidable across the Majors. They were fifth in baseball in runs scored, fourth in home runs with 279, and fourth in slugging with a .472 mark. They are led by probable MVP winner Cody Bellinger who finished the season with a .305/406/.629 line to go with a 1.035 OPS and 47 home runs and 115 RBIs. However, Bellinger cooled off in the second half, slashing just .265/.371/.546 with 17 home runs.
Player to watch- Kenley Jansen
Jansen had the highest ERA (3.71) and second highest opponents average (.213) of his career in 2019. He also blew a career high 8 saves during the regular season. The 31-year-old has good postseason numbers (2.08 ERA, 16 for 19 in saves in 47 2/3 IP,) but it is fair to wonder if his regular season struggles will reappear in the postseason.