Rocktober is Over! Diamondbacks to NLDS + Full NLDS Previews
As if the Yankees-Twins game on Tuesday didn’t have enough action and craziness for you, Wednesday’s NL Wild Card game did not disappoint. The game got crazy right from the get-go, as the Arizona Diamondbacks scored three runs in the bottom of the first on a home run by Paul Goldschmidt. Colorado’s starting pitcher was knocked out of the game after throwing only 1.1 innings, he allowed four runs while striking out two.
The Diamondbacks did not get the stellar performance I thought they would get from Zack Greinke. I thought he would last at least six innings, but instead he lasted only 3.2 innings, while allowing four earned runs, but this was fine because he was given a six-run lead thanks to a two-run home run from Daniel Descalso in the bottom of the third inning.
This postseason, the starting pitchers have lasted a combined for 7.1 innings, and Madison Bumgarner has thrown 18 shutout innings in his two Wild Card starts. This season’s wild card round has really put the greatness of Madison Bumgarner in perspective, but that is not what this piece is about, so I’ll move on.
The Rockies never had a lead in this game, but they never quit, and cut the deficit to one run two different times. They managed to scratch and claw their way back into the game each time it seemed like they had fallen out of it. The Rockies offensive effort was backed by big performances from Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, and Jonathan Lucroy. The Rockies simply did not have strong enough pitching to quell a great Diamondbacks lineup. Arizona would go on to win the game 11-8 and advance to the NLDS.
NLDS Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers and the Diamondbacks met in the regular season 19 times, and they went 11-8 in those meetings, and were one of the few teams that seemed to do well against the Dodgers this year. The Dodgers started off this season scorching hot, but cooled down in August and early September, which gives me more confidence in the Diamondbacks.
At the trade deadline, the Diamondbacks acquired J.D. Martinez, and he has been an absolute stud from the second he stepped foot off of the plane from Detroit. In only 62 games, he hit 29 home runs, had 65 RBIs, and hit .302. I think that he has the potential to dominate the Dodgers like he did in the regular season. He had 34 at-bats against Los Angeles, and during those at-bats, he hit five home runs, eight RBIs, and hit .294. I think that he will be able to carry the load offensively against the Dodgers, and if the rest of the team hits just well enough to compliment him in the lineup, and get runners on base for Martinez, then the Diamondbacks should score plenty of runs, which they demonstrated tonight against the Rockies.
I do not think the Dodgers will win the NLDS, and no, it is not simply because I cannot stand the team and don’t think they should win another game for the rest of their existence. I do not think they will win because I cannot trust their pitching staff in the postseason. Clayton Kershaw’s postseason struggles have been well documented, and I do not see him being able to suddenly turn it around this year. He has thrown in 18 playoff games and has an ERA of 4.55, and against an extremely potent Diamondbacks lineup, I imagine that his ERA will continue to rise. Yu Darvish, the team’s no. 2 starter has pitched in two postseason games, lost both of them and has an ERA of 5.40 while giving up 3.1 HR/9, which won’t improve against a lineup as deadly as the Dbacks. I do not think the team has a lot of confidence against the Diamondbacks after the team swept them twice this year, and I do not trust many of the arms of the Starting pitchers.
I think the Diamondbacks will win this series in four games, and will advance to the NLCS to take on the Washington Nationals.
NLDS Preview: Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs.
The defending champions are back in the postseason for a chance to repeat, but unfortunately they will not, as they are about to run full speed into the beast that is the Washington Nationals.
The Nationals are as talented a team as the National League has to offer, with a combined team batting average of .266 to go along with 215 Home Runs and 108 stolen bases, the team has a lineup that can do it all. The lineup is loaded, with premier hitters all over it. The lineup features Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon, and Ryan Zimmerman. I think the lineup has the potential to just mash against the Cubs’ starting pitching. The Cubs did not have a single starter with an ERA below 3.00, and their two pitchers with the most postseason experience, Jon Lester and John Lackey, have ERAs of 4.33 and 4.59. The Nationals boast one of the best starting pitching trios the league has to offer in Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, and Max Scherzer. All three of their frontline starters had ERAs below 3.00 and started at least 28 games, and while Max Scherzer’s status is currently unknown, I have confidence that Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg can pick up the slack.
The Nationals also bolstered their bullpen at the trade deadline this year, adding guys like Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Bryan Kintzler, who have all been ridiculously dominant for the Nationals. I think the Nationals have an incredible rotation and bullpen, which I think is the most important thing in October baseball. I never bet against great pitching, because that is the foundation of a championship team, just look at the 2015 Royals, or the Giants from 2010, 2012, or 2014. The Nationals have pitching great enough to conquer the Chicago Cubs.
World Series hangovers are real, and there is no need to doubt it at this point, as I am a Giants fan, and they are very well known for their even-year magic followed by mediocre to terrible odd-years. The Cubs will fizzle away in the NLDS, and I have confidence in this because of how great the pitching of the Nationals is, and because a team has not repeated as a World Series champion since the Yankees in 2000, and I do not think the Cubs have the same level of talent that those Yankees teams had.
I think the Nationals will win this series in three games and advance to the NLCS to face the Diamondbacks.