If the NLDS matchups are anything close to as exciting as the NL Wild Card game was, we’re in for a real treat.
It certainly seems like we have all the makings for two incredible series. We have Dodgers vs. Nationals which means Kershaw vs. Scherzer, and Giants vs. Cubs which means Madison Bumgarner and a whole lot of other things. Let’s go over some of the big storylines these series have to offer.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals
Clayton Kershaw vs. Max Scherzer
The best pitching matchup we’ll see all postseason. The NL Cy Young favorite before his injury in late June (Kershaw) vs. arguably today’s Cy Young favorite (Scherzer).
If Kershaw has a tough time in Game 1, expect to hear a ton of talk about how he just can’t get it done in the postseason. All eyes will be on the 28-year-old southpaw as he tries to end that discussion Friday night.
It won’t be easy for Kershaw and the Dodgers as they go up against Scherzer. All signs point to this one being a repeat of the Syndergaard-Bumgarner duel we witnessed Wednesday night.
Corey Seager vs. Trea Turner
Corey Seager and Trea Turner were the two most exciting rookies in the game during the regular season, and it’s going to be a hell of a time watching them duke it out in this series.
Seager is a shoo-in for NL Rookie Of the Year and one definitely could make an argument to vote him for MVP. As for Turner, he hit .342 with 13 homers in 72 games for Washington.
Besides the Game 1 pitching matchup, Seager vs. Turner might be the most intriguing part of this series.
Which Bryce Harper Will We See?
Bryce Harper had a down year following his 2015 NL MVP campaign. Of course, a down year doesn’t matter if he returns to form in the postseason.
The Nationals really need him to do that. Whether we see the 2015 or 2016 Harper could make all the difference in determining the winner in the series. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this series go five games with Harper coming through when it matters most.
Postseason Daniel Murphy
Daniel Murphy was simply magical for the Mets throughout their 2015 postseason run. At one point he homered in six straight games. He finished the postseason with seven homers and an OPS of 1.115.
No one expects Murphy to live up to those numbers this year, but expectations undoubtedly are sky-high as he was an NL MVP candidate this season for the Nationals.
Despite the sensational regular season Murphy had, Nationals fans won’t be thrilled if he puts up a dud this postseason after what he did last year for their arch-rivals.
San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs
Madison Bumgarner (Duh)
I’m not even going to go into detail here. The Giants literally were the last team the Cubs wanted to face this postseason. And that’s for one reason and one reason only: Madison Bumgarner.
If the Cubs don’t win Game 1, they’re already in big trouble. That’s because down 0-1 they already put themselves in a position where they might have to face Bumgarner in an elimination game on the road. There’s no worse position to possibly be in when it comes playoff time.
Chicago’s Rotation Is Pretty Good, Too
Bumgarner’s getting all the attention, but you’d be foolish to look past the Cubs’ pitching staff. The postseason rotation of Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey is nothing to scoff at.
That Fearsome Cubs Lineup
Again, no reason to go into a ton of detail here. Headlined by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, Chicago boasts arguably the best lineup in baseball. Outside of Bumgarner, this Giants rotation has their work cut out for them.
Do the Giants Have the Momentum?
The Cubs haven’t played since Oct. 2. Meanwhile, the Giants are coming off a thrilling Wild Card game win with all the confidence in the world. Chicago is without a doubt the more talented team, but sometimes momentum and some luck matters more than talent this time of year.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals – 5:30pm
San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs – 9:00pm