Latest posts by Eric Urbanowicz (see all)
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Following the Washington Nationals 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Wild Card game, the stage is now set for the Division Series. The National League’s best team, the Los Angeles Dodgers will play Washington, while the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Atlanta Braves.
Will Los Angeles’ playoff success continue or will Washington pull off the upset? Will St. Louis return to form or will Atlanta punch their ticket to the championship series?
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals
The Los Angeles Dodgers put on a regular season similar to that of the Boston Red Sox last year. They won 106 games and yet people aren’t convinced they’ll win it all. Manager Dave Roberts has lead the team to the World Series the last two years but has fallen both times. Is this the year he exorcised his demons?
Meanwhile the Washington Nationals have been riding high even though they seemingly lost their top star in free agency this year. After failing to resign outfielder Bryce Harper, their starting pitching has guided them to much success. Players like third baseman Anthony Rendon and outfielder Juan Soto have also contributed plenty of run support to boost Washington to this spot.
Players to watch:
Los Angeles: Third Baseman Justin Turner
Perhaps the most intriguing player in the postseason, Turner had a productive year with 27 home runs, 67 runs batted in and a .290 batting average. However, those who know Turner know he turns it up to another level in the postseason. If he goes on a tear, Washington may have played their play-in game for naught.
Washington: Starting Pitcher Patrick Corbin
Washington used both their number one starter (Max Scherzer) and their number two starter (Stephen Strasburg) in their win over Milwaukee. That leaves Patrick Corbin, a pitcher with no prior playoff experience, as the guy to start the series. If he can buy Washington that extra game, there’s a chance they could pull off the upset. They just need to give him run support.
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Washington Nationals in four games
Washington is almost there, but they need one more big bat. With questions about manager Dave Martinez’s and Rendon’s future in the air, expect a fight from them. However, Los Angeles’ pitching and hitting is just too overpowering. They won’t sweep but it won’t go five games.
Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals just survived one of the most exciting playoff races in recent memory. They not only punched a ticket into the playoffs but managed to avoid playing in the Wild Card game. Their prize: a team that’s on the verge on breaking out as a potential super power in the National League.
The Atlanta Braves have hungered for a chance to face Los Angeles ever since being eliminated by them last year in the division series. Now with a chance to seek revenge, they face St. Louis and a team of younger players lead by veteran first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and catcher Yadier Molina.
Players to watch:
St. Louis: Catcher Yadier Molina
Yadier Molina’s career clock is ticking. At age 37, he’s no spring chicken. Though no announcement has been made, there’s always speculation that he’ll retire any season now. If he can be a difference maker just more time, give the Busch Stadium fans a couple more good memories, there’s no telling where this Cardinal team can go.
Atlanta: Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr.
Normally a star player doesn’t get the nod as someone to watch but after suffering a late-season injury, Ronald Acuna Jr. gets the nod here. While first baseman Freddie Freeman also suffered a late-season injury, Acuna has become the heart and soul of this team. Losing him would be catastrophic for Atlanta. If he plays well, this could be a short series.
Prediction: Atlanta Braves sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in three games
The thing about miracles and good stories is that they eventually come to an end. St. Louis just doesn’t look like a team that could beat Atlanta in a best of five series. Expect Atlanta to roll.