National League playoff preview
Get to know the National League teams playing for a chance to win the World Series
Three series’, 11 wins. That’s all it takes to win the World Series after a long, 162 game regular season. Only 10 teams are left after the 30 that started the season, and with the defending champions, the Kansas City Royals sitting at home this playoff season, a new champion is set to be crowned.
San Francisco Giants:
After having baseball’s best record at the all star break, the Giants barely squeezed into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season. The Giants look to continue the legend of the even year, as they have won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014, and are now back in the picture in 2016. The pitching depth is much better than the Mets with Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija but there are still questions surrounding this team due to their second half disappearing act. The Giants have the talent to go against anybody, but it is a matter of putting all of the pieces together.
New York Mets:
The Mets have been riddled with injuries to their starting rotation, where three of their original starters are out for the year with injuries. Somehow they clawed their way back in the playoff picture and have homefield advantage in their matchup against the Giants. Noah Syndergaard leads the pitching staff with a 2.60 ERA, but is there enough pitching depth to get them to the World Series? After Syndergaard, the starting rotation is poor at best and they will have to rely on Syndergaard and the big bat of Yoenis Cespedes to get them to the finish line.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
Clayton Kershaw looks to exorcise his playoff demons this year as the Dodgers earned the 3rd best record in the National League. Kershaw, despite arguably being the league's best pitcher for the past five years, has struggled in the playoffs. Kershaw, along with the re-emergence of pitcher Rich Hill set up a solid top of the rotation for the Dodgers. Combined with likely rookie of the year winner Corey Seager and power hitters Josh Reddick and Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers could be poised to make a run if the bottom half of their rotation and their bullpen can hold up.
It all started so well for the Nationals. They put together a solid season, finally found their cleanup hitter in Daniel Murphy and were comfortably in the postseason picture for much of the year. Then, the injuries started piling on. First, pitcher Stephen Strasburg went down and is not likely to pitch in the NLDS, then MVP candidate Daniel Murphy strained a muscle and is still 50/50 for the NLDS, starting catcher Wilson Ramos tore his ACL and is done for the season, Jayson Werth is experiencing back tightness. Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong for the Nationals in the last month of the season. There is still enough talent there to win some games, but unless Bryce Harper returns to his 2015 form, don't be surprised to see the Nationals bounced early in the playoffs.
Two MVP candidates and three Cy Young candidates. What is there to be said about the Chicago Cubs that already hasn't been said? The best team in baseball over the regular season, the Cubs took the division lead in the first week of the year and never looked back, managing to win 103 games in the regular season. Kris Bryant is the likely NL MVP, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester will probably finish 1-2 in the Cy Young voting, just as they finished 1-2 for the ERA lead in the national league.
This doesn't even account for reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo who finished the season with 109 RBIs or Addison Russell who is probably the best defensive shortstop in the league. There is no denying the fact that the Cubs are loaded. Their biggest weakness? They're the Chicago Cubs. They have not won a World Series since 1908, the longest such drought in all of American Sports, and there is always the thought in the back of one's mind that the Cubs will pull a - well - a Cubs.
Here are my “expert” predictions for the National League
Wild Card Game:
Giants over Mets: Syndergaard is good, but the Giants are better. Home field advantage won't help the Mets in this one
Dodgers over Nationals in 4: Nationals too injured to compete in this years playoffs. Expect Kershaw to break out of his postseason slump.
Cubs over Giants in 5: It will be a very close series, going the distance, but the Wrigley Field crowd will help the Cubs make it to the NLCS for the second year in a row.
Cubs over Dodgers in 6:
Dodgers get two quality starts from Kershaw, but pitching depth is not enough and the Cubs advance to play in the World Series for the first time since 1945 and look to party like it's 1908.