Washington Nationals, NLDS Preview

photo taken from @nationals

Playoff baseball is underway, and Tuesday was a roller coaster of emotions for Nationals fans. Hosting their first ever wild card game, they were in a hole early, as the Milwaukee Brewers powered their way to a 3-0 lead. But the Nationals prevailed as they used a late eighth inning rally en route to a 4-3 victory.

So, what’s next, and what do fans need to know?

The Division Series

The winner of the wild card faces one of the three division winners with the highest record in a best-of-five series. This year, that’s the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won 106 games this year. They’ll host Games 1 and 2 tonight and tomorrow night (8:37 and 9:37 pm ET), then travel to Washington for Game 3 (7:45pm ET Sunday) and a potential Game 4 on Monday. If necessary, the winner-take-all Game 5 would be Wednesday night in Los Angeles. 

All games will be on TBS. You can also stream every playoff game on MLB.tv or MLB At Bat app with a valid TV provider login.

Do the Nats have a shot? 

The Dodgers won 4 of the 7 regular season matchups, splitting a four-game series in California and winning two of three in the District. They’ve also been to the last two World Series and the last three League Championship Series.

However, St. John’s students are hopeful.  Junior RJ Resch said “They’re looking really good…I think we are definitely a World Series contender this year. Everybody’s looking forward to this next series.”

Thomas Kresina ‘19, who plays varsity baseball, said, “It depends if their bullpen can come out strong, and the bats can come alive like they did in the eighth inning, I think they have a decent chance. But if they have to over-rely on their starting pitching, then I think the Dodgers will just overpower them both offensively and from the mound.”

Sophomore Shane Lancaster put it simply: “I always believe in my hometown team.”

Why are fans so excited about this year?

There seems to be some extra excitement about the Nationals’ playoff run this year, despite not winning the division, nor ever winning a playoff series since the franchise moved from Montreal.

By the end of May, the Nationals were 28-33, and had less than a 15% chance at making the playoffs. After key players returned from injuries, they stormed back into contention, finishing the year at 93-69 and heading into the wild card with an eight-game winning streak. They then defeated the Brewers, who were still rolling without NL MVP favorite Christian Yelich. They had won 11 of their last 15 games before the Nats’ comeback win. Washington also won their first elimination playoff game since 1981, when they were the Montreal Expos. 

In short: the Nats are on a streak, and fans are noticing

Who’s Starting Game 1?

Full lineup details will be released this afternoon, but there likely won’t be any changes from the wild card roster. RHP Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.25 ERA) will be on the mound against the Dodgers’ RHP Walker Buehler (14-4, 3.26 ERA). 

Here’s what the starting lineups are expected to look like:

Nationals Probable lineup:                  Dodgers Probably lineup:

After both Strasburg and Scherzer pitched on Tuesday, it’s unclear who will start Game 2. We may see one of those two, or perhaps another starter, such as Aníbal Sánchez or Joe Ross. Ross had a good outing Sunday against Cleaveland in the season finale, striking out 8 and allowing only four hits and one run, a solo homer by Francisco Lindor. 

What’s Up With Max?

In the first half of the year, 3-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer looked to be on his way to a fourth. But then, signs of wear began to show. He skipped the All-Star Game to rest, then went on the Injured List with shoulder and back injuries. Since returning, he’s posted a 4.74 ERA across 38 innings, much higher than his pre-injury 2.30.

But there’s signs he can get back to his winning ways. Despite giving up two early home runs, he only allowed four hits in his five innings of work while striking out six.

About Author