Dodgers and Nationals square off in Game 1

I am sick of the October surprises in politics. It’s time for an October surprise for the Dodgers.

Dodgers and Nationals Line-ups

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For the fourth straight year the Dodgers enter the post-season as division winners, but unlike the past three years they aren’t seen as the prohibitive favorites they’ve been in years 2013-2015. With that said, any team with Clayton Kershaw is expected to do well and with Los Angeles knocking off the Nationals in five of the six meetings this year, many are picking the Dodgers to advance.

I think this team is better than the team’s the Dodgers have sent to the post-season in the past. They aren’t more talented mind you, they are just better as a group. They play the game better. They aren’t the best team at playing little ball, but they are much better at it than in the past, and it should serve them well in this series.

I am no longer shocked at the efficiency of the bullpen. I have used Andrew Friedman as a piñata at times, but if he foresaw Joe Blanton performing at this level, kudos to him. Even if he didn’t, hell, he took the chance and Blanton has made him look good. The Dodgers pen is much more well equipped to perform well in October than in October’s past.

One bit of advice to manager Dave Roberts. Please, please under no circumstances are you to use Pedro Baez in Game 1 of this series. In 2014, after Kershaw’s 7th inning meltdown, it was Baez who served up what would be the game-winning hit for the Red Birds, a three-run home run to Matt Holiday. Then, last year in a tie ballgame late it was Baez again who served up the game-winning single to David Wright. No Baez today please. I don’t want to hear third times a charm. I don’t want to hear about how well he has pitched this year….blah blah blah…..No Baez today.

The Nationals are a formidable foe and this series will be tough. This series would be even tougher if Stephen Strasburg were healthy and if Wilson Ramos didn’t get hurt last week. Throw in the fact that Ryan Zimmerman has struggled to get big hits with runners in scoring position all year and it really narrows down how the Nats can beat you. Trea Turner has been a dynamic addition to Washington and its imperative Dodger hurlers keep him off base. He is a terror on the bases. Our ole friend Jayson Werth has hurt the Dodgers in the path when with the Phillies, gotta keep him out of leveraged situations with runners in scoring position. And, of course Bryce Harper. By Harper standards he has had an off year but he is supremely talented and loves the spot-light. I expect him to have a good series.

Both teams have great bullpens with Mark Melancon closing for the Nationals and Kenley Jansen closing for the Boys in Blue. Both teams want to give their behemoths in the 9th leads to work with.

It seems simplistic to say, but these teams are evenly matched and the squad that hits better with runners in scoring position and whose bullpen performs better will win it.

No predictions here. Bleeding Dodger Blue and dreaming of that elusive pennant that we have waited nearly three decades to savor.

 

 

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