I didn’t really do a pre-NLDS prediction piece for this series. A combination of work and life events conspired against me.
But if you had asked me what I thought a week ago about the Nats-Dodgers NLDS, I would have said the series would have basically gone like this:
- Nats lose to Kershaw in Game 1 because he’s Kershaw
- Nats rebound in Game 2 and handle the veteran Hill.
- Nats throw their sole lefty who dominates the lefty-feeble Dodgers line-up
- Dodgers then panic down 2-1 and throw Kershaw on short rest, who dominates us again.
- … leading to the inevitable Game 5 back home.
Now … the above description isn’t exactly how these games have gone, but the end result has been the same. The Nats hit Kershaw in Game 1 … but the Dodgers hit Scherzer harder; that was no 2-1 squeaker. Game 2 was salvaged when perhaps the weakest hitter on the roster clubbed a 3-run homer into a 25mph wind, energizing the stadium and the team to a degree i’ve never felt before. Gonzalez certainly did not “shut down” the Dodgers in Game 3, but the Nats bats came alive at the end to turn it into a 4hour 12min laugher. In game 4 Kershaw did indeed go on short rest, and up until the 7th looked pretty dominant, but in a recurring theme for him in the post-season, he went one inning too long, loaded the bases in the 7th and was charged with a total of 5 runs on the night despite 11 strikeouts. Nonetheless, the Nats bullpen (which it should be noted did not give up a single run in the first three games) finally faltered, with Treinen coughing up the game winner in the bottom of the 8th to long-time Nats nemesis Chase Utley.
So here we are. Game 5 tomorrow 10/13/16. Max Scherzer on full rest versus Rich Hill on three days rest thanks to the Saturday cancellation. Hill, 37-yr old veteran journeyman with a career resurgence, has thrown precisely one game on 3 days rest in his career: he gave up 5 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks in just 3IP that day. No offense to Hill, but lets hope for that line again and for the Nats to get into the Dodgers incredibly taxed bullpen.
Meanwhile, Scherzer has to figure out a way to keep the ball in the park. And he probably needs to go 6 or 7 innings to help a bullpen that has now thrown 17 2/3rds innings in four games.
How about the Offense for this team so far? Hitting .259 as a team despite going against Kershaw twice and a bunch of one-out relievers most of the rest of the time. The veterans have really come to play: Murphy, Zimmerman and Werth all stepping up and crushing the ball. Youngster Turner at the top hitting .353 … but 10 of his 11 outs have been punchouts. Harper is just 3-14 with 4 walks … but to be fair, 13 of those plate appearances have come against lefties and 3 more have come against LA closer Jansen … not exactly the easiest series for Harper.
Who has not acquitted themselves at the plate? Espinosa; 1-11 with 8 punch outs and being outright replaced in game 3. I read elsewhere, this may change my “next year opinion” on Espinosa; he has looked beyond helpless at the plate despite being a switch hitter. Remind me of this sentence this coming off-season if I start making arguments for keeping him and keeping Turner in center. Rendon has had a “loud” 3-16 series; loud in that he has 4 RBI and a monster homer. Severino is 1-9 but has been putting the ball in play and has not looked overmatched.
Can’t wait for game 5.