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2016 NLDS Preview: Dodgers vs. Nationals

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Two very similar teams will battle in the NLDS, the Washington Nationals, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Both teams have strong bullpens and deep starting rotations. The biggest wild card will be each team’s lineup lineup. Let’s take a look at the matchups

Dodgers vs. Nationals

The Giants and Nationals are two very similar teams, they have very balanced offenses and pitching staffs, each with their own dominant ace. However, this series will come down to the their lineup.

In Game 1 of the series, the Nationals will start Max Scherzer (2.96 ERA), vs. Clayton Kershaw (1.69 ERA). This is the most critical matchup, both teams’ best pitchers face off.

Scherzer has absolutely dominated hitters this season, 284 strikeouts, which lead MLB. However has not been as dominant in the postseason, with a 3.73 postseason ERA and 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 62.2 innings pitched in 64.2 innings pitched.

Similarly with Kershaw, who has a 4.59 postseason ERA and a 1.16 WHIP has dominated the regular season but struggled in the playoffs. He has also been one of the most dominant pitchers in the regular season, winning Cy Young Awards in 2011, 2012, and 2013. The first game will be decided by which pitcher can translate their regular season results to the post season.

After Game 1, the pitching matchups are not set for the Nationals, but for the Dodgers, Rich Hill (2.12 ERA) will pitch Game 2 and Kenta Maeda (3.48 ERA) will pitch Game 3.

For the Nationals, Tanner Roark (2.83 ERA) and Gio Gonzalez (4.57 ERA) will likely pitch Games 2 and 3.

The Nationals said that Stephen Strasburg will not start in this series because of injury, which is a huge blow. After Game 1, the Dodgers have the advantage in starting pitching depth for the rest of the series.

Both teams have a very similar bullpen. The Nationals have a 3.37 bullpen ERA and the Dodgers have a 3.35 bullpen ERA, the top two in MLB. Both have been absolutely dominant.

However, the Nationals have the edge who have actually let up 33 less runs than the Dodgers have have the edge at closer. At the July trade deadline, the Nationals picked up one of the best closers in MLB, Mark Melancon (1.64 ERA and 47 saves). Fans have more confidence in Melancon to close out a game than Kenley Jansen. The Nationals have a slight edge in relief corps.

Even though the Nationals and Dodgers have very similar bullpens and pitching staffs, the Dodgers offense definitely has the edge. Kershaw, missed half of the season with a back injury and in the time Kershaw was out, the Dodgers managed to take the NL West lead from the Giants, thanks to their offense.

Since the All-Star Break, the Dodgers have scored the fifth most runs in MLB. The Nationals, comparatively, have scored eighth most runs in MLB. However, in September, the Nationals lost one of their best hitters, catcher Wilson Ramos (.850 OPS and 80 RBIs). Their shortstop Daniel Murphy (.985 OPS and 104 RBIs) who is an MVP candidate this year is also banged up at the end of the season. This is why the Dodgers have the advantage in their offense.

Prediction Dodgers 3-1

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