It’s the beginning of a postseason we had hoped would include the Cubs. But since it doesn’t, there are still four weeks of major-league baseball remaining in 2019 and you can never have too much baseball.
Here are my thoughts on the two N.L. division series which begin today.
Braves vs. Cardinals
The Braves more or less cruised to the N.L. East title. They led by six games at the All-Star break and after a bit of a rough patch just after the break, they resumed a six-game lead by late July and it didn’t go below that until they got swept by the Mets in their regular-season ending series, by which time they were resting many of their regulars.
The Braves ranked third in the N.L. in runs but were middle of the pack in runs allowed (tied for seventh). So it should be their offense that will lead them to victory in this series. Dynamic young hitters Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. are complemented well by veterans Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson. Their rotation isn’t great, but it should be good enough. They don’t really have a lockdown closer, but Mark Melancon has resurrected at least a bit of his old form.
The Cardinals had a more bruising division race with the Cubs and Brewers, not clinching until the season’s last day. They lost four in a row late and nearly blew a three-game lead with six remaining.
No one on the Cardinals had an MVP or Cy Young type season, but somehow they just seem to know how to won. You know, the old Cardinals pixie dust magic. Jack Flaherty did have an unbelievable second half (0.91 ERA, 0.775 WHIP in 15 starts), and he’s set up to start twice in this series (Game 2 and Game 5) if needed.
The Braves won four of the six games these two played in the regular season, not that that’s an indicator of anything. Remember when the Cubs went 7-0 vs. the Mets in the 2015 regular season, then got swept in the NLCS?
The Braves played very well at home and with home field, they’ll win this series in five games.
Dodgers vs. Nationals
The Nats finally won a winner-take-all game, the first in the franchise history since the Montreal Expos won a “division series” in the strike year of 1981 over the Phillies.
Give this team a lot of credit. They were 19-31 after being swept by the Mets in a four-game series May 20-23 and many were expecting Dave Martinez to be fired.
After that date they went 74-38 to win the top wild-card spot.
Know who else went 74-38 in that same time span? That’s right, the Dodgers, on their way to a franchise-record 106 wins. On August 31 they had just been swept by the Diamondbacks and their lead had fallen to “only 17 games.
No worries — they went 18-6 in September and won the N.L. West by 21 games. They finished the regular season with a seven-game winning streak. They’ve got solid pitching everywhere and keep dragging kids out of their farm system who perform like MLB veterans.
These teams split four games in Los Angeles in May and the Dodgers won two of three in Washington in July. The Dodgers won 59 games at Dodger Stadium this year. Only 13 teams since 1900 won more home games than that. Oh, and they won 47 on the road, too.
The Dodgers will win this series three games to one.
Here’s the rest of the info you’ll need for the two games beginning the N.L. division series, one late this afternoon, the other one this evening.
Miles Mikolas (Cardinals) vs. Dallas Keuchel (Braves)
Patrick Corbin (Nationals) vs. Walker Buehler (Dodgers)
MLB.com Gameday for Cardinals/Braves
MLB.com Gameday for Nationals/Dodgers
Baseball-reference.com game preview for Cardinals/Braves
Baseball-reference.com game preview for Nationals/Dodgers
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This is the only thread for today’s games. Enjoy, and discuss amongst yourselves.
Who will win the Braves/Cardinals series?
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Who will win the Dodgers/Nationals series?
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