The Dodgers finally have an opponent. It took a late-inning error by the Brewers, but the Nationals won the Wild Card game and are headed to the NLDS.
With the AL Wild Card game today, the NLDS will begin tomorrow. Games one and two are at Dodger Stadium, beginning at 5:37 and 6:37 respectively. From there, games three and four (if necessary) will be in Washington D.C. on Sunday and Monday. If a game five is needed, it will be back in LA next Wednesday.
The Playoff Roster
The Dodgers haven’t yet announced an official playoff roster, but Dave Roberts did announce that Rich Hill, Justin Turner, and Joe Kelly are healthy and on the roster.
This means the Dodger starters will be Hyun-Jin Ryu, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Rich Hill. We don’t know the order, but this is how I would set it up. This would get Ryu and Buehler at home, where they are more successful.
As far as the bullpen goes, we don’t know exactly who will make the roster. We know Kenley Jansen will be there even though he can’t be trusted with a save. We also know Joe Kelly will pitch. Other than that, we can speculate that Kenta Maeda, Pedro Báez, Ross Stripling, and Julio Urías will be there.
For infield and outfield, the Dodgers will probably send out Max Muncy (1B), Gavin Lux (2B), Corey Seager (SS), Justin Turner (3B), A.J. Pollock (LF), Cody Bellinger (CF), and Joc Pederson (RF).
Comparing The Teams
The Dodgers cakewalked to the division and league championship, winning 106 games and setting a franchise record. On the other side, the Nationals struggled early in the year. They were 12 games under .500 in May, but they battled back, won Wild Card home-field advantage, and won the game.
Both teams’ weakness would be the bullpen. The Dodger bullpen had a 3.85 ERA and the Nationals’ bullpen was 5.68. The Dodgers continually trust Kenley Jansen, even though he doesn’t close many games. The Nationals can really only trust their closer, Sean Doolittle in pressure situations.
On paper, the Nationals have a better starting rotation, with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strausburg, and Patrick Corbin as the first three. But Scherzer and Strausburg were both used in the Wild Card game, leaving the Nats’ rotation weaker.
The Dodgers don’t have the problem of having used 2 pitchers. They can send Kershaw, Buehler, Ryu, and Hill out in any order. Ideally, the Dodgers should have Ryu pitch game one, Buehler pitch game two, and have Kershaw pitch game three on the road.
Game 1 Preview
The Nationals have already announced Patrick Corbin will pitch game one of the NLDS. Corbin has a 3.25 ERA in 33 games played this year. He relies mainly on his slider, throwing it 37% of the time, he throws his sinker 33% of the time, and his fastball 20%.
Against left-handed pitchers this year, the Dodgers slashed .250/.326/.451 with an OPS+ of just 102. Against LHP, Dodger right-handed batters had a 96 OPS+, below league average and 34 points below left-handed batters.
The Dodgers, as I’ve said before, haven’t announced a starting rotation. Reports say it will either be Kershaw or Ryu, but we don’t know which it will be. The other will likely start game 3.