As the NLDS gets underway Friday, here are some warning signs as the Washington Nationals face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Washington Nationals ready themselves for a long October run by hopefully beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series.
After a 95-win season and the NL East divisional crown, the Nats have home field advantage for this round. If, somehow the San Francisco Giants upset the Chicago Cubs in the other NLDS, the pivotal Game’s 1 and 7 would be in DC. For those of you dreaming big, the World Series starts at the home of the American League champions.
Making their third postseason trip in the last five years, this is the year the Nationals are a lock to advance for the first time since 1981, right?
Not so fast, my friend.
Best-of-five series are finicky by design. With the compactness of a race to three wins, early mistakes magnify. Your time to recover shortens. The pressure of the other team sitting on two wins makes the best managers in the game gamble and make mistakes.
Imagine if the Baltimore Orioles had to face the Toronto Blue Jays the next day after Buck Showalter failed to use Zach Britton. Even the smartest minds in the game can turn into mush under the harsh spotlight that is playoff baseball.
Washington carries advantages this time around. Aside from that all-important home field, the Dodgers starting pitching is inexperience and Max Scherzer will get two starts, if needed, at the friendly confines of Nationals Park.
Yet, no team is perfect. There are plenty of reasons the Nats may fall short again. Here are five.