When the postseason begins, the bullpens tend to fall under the microscope. In this NLDS matchup, we have two teams that finished in the top two in the National League in bullpen ERA. The Dodgers had the lowest ERA at 3.35 while the Nats were second (3.37).
Another to look at with these bullpen are that they were both in the top four in lowest batting average against (Dodgers – .210, Nationals – .232). The one stat where the Dodgers had the large edge over the Nats on were strikeouts. LA’s relievers led the league with 633 K’s (Nats were 13th with 489).
If you look at the two closers, it is a push between Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. Jansen was 47-for-53 in saves and had a 1.83 ERA (20-for-23 in the second half) while Melancon is 17-for-18 in saves since joining in the Nats at the trade deadline.
One reliever to watch on the Dodgers is Joe Blanton. The former starter appeared in 75 games this season and had a 2.48 ERA (no runs allowed in September). On the Nationals side, Shawn Kelley has given up one hit since September 1 and Blake Treinen has given up one run in his last 13 innings.
Another aspect of these bullpens to keep an eye on is the lefties. The Dodgers will look to neutralize Murphy and Harper with Adam Liberatore (3.38 ERA) and rookie Grant Dayton (2.05). On the Nats side, the importance will be on Marc Rzepczynski (1.54) and Sammy Solis (2.41) to keep up LA’s struggles against lefties.
Advantage: The battle of the bullpens is going to be fun to watch in this series because I expect a couple of close games early on in the NLDS. Jansen and Melancon are a push to me. As far as the setup spots goes, I am going to lean towards the Nats because of the way Kelley and Treinen have pitched as of late. If those two guys deliver in October, Baker has three reliable options to go to late in games.
Update: Last night, the Dodgers tweeted out that Liberatore is going to have elbow surgery and will not be available to pitch in the postseason: