The Los Angeles Dodgers had to wait awhile to find out who they would play in the NLCS, but they know have an opponent: the Chicago Cubs. The two teams will get set to face-off on Saturday in the City of Angels.
In the NLDS, the two series couldn’t have been any more opposite. The Dodgers won in three while the Cubs went the distance. Beyond that, L.A. won mostly on offense—though pitching took the lead in Game 3. The Cubs and Nationals had a low scoring series with the offense virtually silent until Game 5. But, boy what a Game 5 it was. We had offense, we had exhaustive use of the bullpen, we had starters pitching in relief and we had drama, plenty of drama.
Game 1 - Cubs 3, Nationals 0
Game 2 - Nationals 6, Cubs 3
Game 3 – Cubs 2, Nationals 1
Game 4 - Nationals 5, Cubs 0
Game 5 - Cubs 9, Nationals 8
What a game; what a series! It took nearly five hours on Thursday night, but Game 5—and the series—went to the defending World Series Champions.
The Cubs and Nationals took this series until the final moments of Game 5. The series went back and forth so it only seemed right that Game 5 did the same thing.
For a series featuring two of the most prolific offenses in the sport, we saw little from either lineup for the bulk of the series. There were only 20 total runs in the first four games. That all changed in the final game as the teams combined to plate 17 runs in what turned out to be a real nail bitter.
The standout performer for the Nationals in this series was centerfielder Michael A Taylor. If not for the early season injury to Adam Eaton, Taylor wouldn’t even be playing, but he did and ended up with a pair of four RBI games. He showed power and speed and was the best player in the series for a team that has Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon. All those big thumpers—as well as Trea Turner—were cold most of the series.
On the other side, the Cubs didn’t slug their way to the NLCS either. Anthony Rizzo had a few big at bats and the offense came alive when it needed to on Thursday. After going down 4-1, the Cubs came back with seven runs to push the score to 8-4 and then could tack on one more. That last run was ultimately the difference.
The other big difference in the contest for the Cubs was Wade Davis. The closer didn’t go more than an inning all year and went seven outs in Game 5, tossing 43 pitches and closing the door when the rest of the pen couldn’t do the job.
Coming into the series, this was the Nationals’ series to lose. They had the home field advantage and were favored—although it was close. In the end, Washington found a way to lose Game 5 of the NLDS at home for the third time in recent memory.
It was more bad luck—and bad plays—for the Nationals and more bad lucky for Dusty Baker who is, yet again, left looking for his first ring. Washington had its chances to win this game. Trea Turner was thrown out at the plate in the first. There were errors, Max Scherzer struggled and Jose Lobaton was picked off first on a replay review.
Game 1 – Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 5
Game 2 – Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 5
Game 3 - Dodgers 3. Diamondbacks 1
It was an easy series for the Dodgers. Los Angeles needed just three games to knock off the Diamondbacks. Many bettors took the underdog in this series given how easily Arizona swept Los Angeles in back-to-back series near the end of the regular season. Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers got hot in the last 10 regular season games and carried that into the postseason. They now look an awful lot like they did midseason when they went 43-7 during a historic 50-game run.
The pitching was the only potential issue for L.A., particularly the coverage of the middle innings. Clayton Kershaw did find himself a bit overexposed at the end of his outing. He hasn’t shown the ability to go seven or eight strong in his previous playoff performances and failed to do so again. Despite that, he did provide six solid frames. Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson each allowed runs in Game 2. Nevertheless, the Dodgers offense was on fire early in the series and scored 20 runs over the three games. The pitching was on point in Game 3 after Yu Darvish dominated for five frames. The pen followed with four scoreless innings.
Going into the NLCS, Morrow and Kenta Maeda look like reliable bullpen pieces for Dave Roberts’ squad.
The key difference between these two offenses in the NLDS was their respective abilities to manufacture runs. Arizona out homered the Dodgers 7-3 in the series, but the D-Backs couldn’t score any other way. All the runs the Diamondbacks scored came on the long ball. Los Angeles provided power when needed, but could also string together big hits.
With Arizona now in the rear view mirror and the Dodgers’ confidence back up to mid season levels, Los Angeles will be a dangerous opponent for whichever team advances to face the Dodgers in the NLCS. If the bullpen holds up, the rotation and offense will be a formidable opponent.
The Major League Baseball season is down to it’s Final Four.
The National League Championship Series pits two teams with fan bases starved for October baseball and with five teams considered as legitimate contenders, there really is no telling as to who will reign over the National League. It’s anybody’s game. Continue
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