This will be an interesting National League Championship Series as these two teams were not supposed to be here, but yet, they defied the odds and advanced in this postseason. The Washington Nationals finally was able to shed their “choker” label as they upset the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals stunned the Atlanta Braves by coming back from the brink of elimination in Game Four and then put up 10 runs in the first inning of Game Five. The two sides in this series will meet for the second time in the postseason and fans on both sides remember the roller coaster end of that one in 2012. Let’s take a look at some things to pay attention to in this series.
The Nationals used a brilliant strategy in their series with the Dodgers to use starting pitchers Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin, and Stephen Strasburg to come in from the bullpen to hold the Los Angeles offense at bay, but the problem was that it was the only way Washington’s Davey Martinez didn’t have to use his awful bullpen arms only masking the problem. It’s a strategy that won’t be able to last in a seven game series unless it’s a clean sweep. St. Louis, though, has a very good bullpen and that could be the key in this series if they want to continue on. The question becomes if it’s a bullpen game, how will the Nationals keep up?
The starting pitching
The Cardinals have a lot of questions about their rotation as outside of Jack Flaherty, the starters were not very good in 2019. Adam Wainwright looked good in the the Division Series, but can he keep it up? The Nationals on the other hand have arguably one of the best rotations in the league as three of their best starters are essentially aces. If most teams have a hard time matching Washington’s rotation, how will a struggling one in the Cardinals match up?
These two teams can slug, but the Nationals’ offense was held somewhat at bay against a very good Dodgers pitching staff and with a struggling rotation in the Cardinals, they could explode. St. Louis pitching also struggled against left handed batters this season, something the Nationals have a lot of, so that might be key for Washington. The Cardinals on the other hand put up a lot runs against a very good Atlanta Braves pitching staff, but they face a better one in the Nationals and the question becomes, will they be able to hit well against them?
Both teams are hot, but the question will be who’s hotter. They also both played into a fifth game in their respective series, so they have been playing consistent baseball. However, the Nationals played a more grueling fifth game, while the bats for St. Louis gave them an easy victory. It might suggest that Washington has the advantage here.
James Rowe: Nationals. I feel like the Nationals have a much better team here and they have grinded it out so much. What will be intriguing is how they use the rotation. This has the makings of a seven game series, so we will see.