The blind squirrel continues finding nuts! The Dodgers took down the Nats in 5 (I had them in 4) and allowed me to put another one in the win column. I am now 5 and 1 predicting playoff series. Today, an overview of the NLCS and accompanying prediction.
National League Championship Series:
During the 2016 season, the Cubs won four of seven head to head regular season match ups against the Dodgers. Scoring was held in check as Chicago put up a total of just 19 runs and L.A. 16 in the seven games. There were three one run games (the Dodgers winning two of the three) and two shutouts (both teams winning one).
A look at the starters tells an interesting tale. For Chicago, Lester was stellar in his two match ups against LA. His line: 15 innings pitched, 7 hits allowed, 1 earned run, 16 strikeouts, and one complete game. Similarly, Arrieta threw 7 shutout innings giving up 2 hits, striking out 8, and walking 4. Hendricks also performed well. He threw 8 innings giving up 3 hits, 2 earned runs, and striking out 6. For the Dodgers, very little data exists. Both Hill and Kershaw did not make any starts against the Cubs (Hill because he came over late in the season via trade and Kershaw due to injury). Urias started twice against the Cubs, once in June and once in August. In June he was rocked for 5 earned runs in 5 innings (giving up three homers) while in August he pitched to a much more respectful line making it through 6 innings, giving up 1 earned run, and striking out 8.
It will be interesting to see if the Chicago pitching studs can continue their domination of the LA line-up while for LA, the question becomes, will a lack of exposure to the Cubs lineup help or hurt Hill and Kershaw and what role will Urias be used in (and will that role yield a Jekyll or Hyde performance)?
Entering the post season, the bullpens for both teams seemed like areas of strength. However, Jansen’s recent bullpen work has been erratic (2 of 4 appearances versus the Nats in the last round were poor: 4 earned runs in 1/3 of an inning and 4 walks in 2 and 1/3 inning). Chapman has been much more reliable (3 saves/1 blown save and 7 Ks in 3.1 innings last round against the Giants). Although both samples are small, they should not be completely ignored and it will be interesting to see if LA can get their closer straightened out or whether the team will have to move to a ‘Plan B’ if Jansen starts to blow up early and often.
Prediction: I want to say Cubs in 5 but that seems harsh so… Cubs in 6.
For a look back at my past playoff write ups and predictions: