The National League Divisional rounds begin this evening with the Cardinals traveling to Atlanta and the Nationals drawing the Dodgers in LA.
St. Louis/Miles Mikolas (9-14 4.16) vs Atlanta/Dallas Keuchel (8-8 3.75)
Washington/Patrick Corbin (14-7 3.25 vs Los Angeles/Walker Beuhler (14-4 3.25)
Let’s start with the latter, and I’ll make this real simple. If the Nationals do not steal game one, I give them no chance in the series. This L.A. team is loaded, but they are tougher against right handed pitching. With lefty Patrick Corbin going in game one this is the only advantage Washington can possibly press.
The Nationals are a good offensive club, but the Dodgers are better and can attack you one to eight in the order. The Nationals’ top three starters are better than L.A.’s, and they have to be in this series. The Nats’ bullpen is a liability. Max Scherzer certainly has to pitch better when we see him in game three.
L.A. was smart to go with Beuhler in game one over Clayton Kershaw. We all know Kershaw has had his post season issues, but for whatever reason most of Beuhler’s bad starts have come on the road this season. Better to get him off the ground at Dodger Stadium.
This Dodger team is fun to watch because of the home grown kids they keep bringing up. It’ll be interesting to see how much Gavin Lux and Will Smith play in this series. Smith will be catching in game one which shows you how much they think of the rookie despite his September struggles at the dish.
Give me L.A. in four games.
As for the Cardinals and Braves this one is more evenly matched. I was impressed by the Cardinals getting it together, getting hot, and winning the NL Central. When you look at their roster it just doesn’t look like a playoff team.
Paul Goldschmidt’s first season in St. Lou was a disappointment. Paul DeJong hit 30 homers, but that doesn’t seem like such a big achievement any more. Those bombs came with a low average. Matt Carpenter was just plain awful, and lost regular playing time to interesting rookie Tommy Edman. My biggest beef with St. Louis is how right handed they are. In the playoffs, with how pitching can control games, they don’t have enough answers from the left side of the plate.
This Atlanta club is really good. If you know only one young superstar in the game, make it Ronald Acuna Jr. He can do it all. Freddy Freeman was awesome even when the Braves had nothing around him. Josh Donaldson was thought to be washed up at third, but he’s had a very nice, and mostly healthy year. The Braves are just built so much better for the playoffs. They can balance you up from the left side with solid big league hitters Nick Markakis and Matt Joyce and then draw on the bench from the other side with former Red Adam Duvall. (Interesting that another former Red Billy Hamilton made their team in this series too…… Late inning pinch runner no doubt. Could be the difference you never know!)
I think I like the Cardinals staff better in this one. Mikolas is entirely dependent on his fielders, but Jack Flaherty has been as good as any starter in the game this year. Dakota Hudson is an extreme ground baller who has gotten extreme results. Adam Wainwright ended his 2019 very well.
As for Atlanta Keuchel is the left handed version of Mikolas, and is better at it. What are we going to get from Mike Foltynewicz? I have no clue. I like Mike Soroka and Max Fried, but they are very young.
I’m not going to say much about the bullpens except that if either team can finally get that area settled it could provide them the advantage they need to get through.
Give me the Braves in five games.