Ben Chambers suggested the following…
If the Cardinals are able to hold on and win the division, which team would you rather face in the NLDS? Dodgers or Nationals?
— Ben Chambers (@chambersb7) September 14, 2014
First off, thanks to Ben for the idea.
Anyways, his idea got me thinking….Five game series, if it goes the distance you’d see the number one and two pitchers twice and the third starter once…
Dodgers ERA FIP WHIP
Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game, period. He leads all six starters here in the three stats mentioned, and it’s not even close. The Cards may have gotten to him in the NLCS last year, but that means nothing. Facing him twice in a five game series would be scary given how well he’s pitching this year. He’s backed up by a solid number two in Greinke, who started off hot but has faded a little. Ryu, if healthy (he exited a recent start early, and is scheduled for an MRI) is a solid number three starter.
Nationals ERA FIP WHIP
Strasburg is their workhorse. He has the most innings and the most games started. His ERA is the forth best in the rotation however. While an argument can be made for Fister, I predict they’ll stick with Srasburg at the top. They’ll stick with what works, and that’s having Strasburg at the top. Fister’s missed some time, but he’s led the team in ERA when he’s been there, so I’ve slotted him in at number two followed by Zimmerman at number three. The odd man out is Tanner Roark, who’s having a solid season and would be the number two starter on alot of teams and the ace on some others.
The edge in rotations goes to Washington. Kershaw alone almost makes this a tossup, he’s that good, the odds are he’ll win both games he starts, but he can’t start all five games.
Even if we didn’t get to Kershaw, we still have a decent chance. If we got to Strasburg however, we still have perhaps the Nationals’ best starter in Fister. And Zimmerman is a better number three starter than Ryu. The Nationals have the depth for a longer series.
The Nationals have the 4th best bullpen ERA in the game, at 2.89, while the Dodgers rank 15th at 3.60. The interesting thing here is that the Dodgers bullpen has actually allowed a lower batting average at .233 to the Nationals .239. This means the Dodgers ‘pen is probably giving up more big hits, while the Nationals are allowing more singles and stranding more runners.
Offense: The Nationals rank higher in runs scored (Nationals 8th, Dodgers 11th) and home runs (Nationals 10th, Dodgers 22nd) while the Dodgers have a higher batting average (Dodgers 4th, Nationals 15th) and are 2nd in stolen bases compared to 11th for the Nationals. Basically, the Nationals are more likely to win with the long ball while the Dodgers will use aggressive base running and clustering hits. Which is worse? I’ll take the team with the lower batting average myself. Our pitchers do a good job of keeping the ball in the park (0.8 HR’s per nine innings, sixth in the league.) so I think we can contain the long ball.
Conclusion. This is tough. If the Dodgers didn’t have Kershaw, it’d be easy, as the Nationals are the deeper team, especially pitching wise. However, the Nationals’ offense is one we can more easily contain. In the end though, given that the Nationals’ second and third starters are better, and they have a much better bullpen, I think I’d still rather face the Dodgers, even with Kershaw.
As always, thanks for reading.