Washington Nationals: 2017 NLDS Tale of the Tape

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Trea Turner #7 and Daniel Murphy #20 after a 6-1 victory against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on June 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Trea Turner #7 and Daniel Murphy #20 after a 6-1 victory against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park on June 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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Washington Nationals
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Starting Rotation

When you look at both of these teams, they both have strong starting rotations. This year, the Nats and Cubs were both in the top five in starter ERA in the National League. But, the Nats had the slight edge (3.63 to 4.05).

Of course, both of these teams are dealing with injury concerns in their rotation heading to the postseason. Max Scherzer’s hamstring cramped up in his final start and it is still unknown as to which game he will throw and how effective he will be.

Scherzer did go 6-1 in his final 13 starts of the season, but it wasn’t without its fair share of injury problems. Now, he can still be great at less than 100 percent, but it will be interesting to see where Baker puts him in the NLDS rotation.

The player in the Washington nationals rotation that will have the most spotlight on him is Stephen Strasburg. He had a 0.86 ERA and 76 strikeouts in his last ten outings, but this will only be his second postseason start. If the Nats are going to take the next step, then Strasburg has to remain dominant.

As for the other two starters, Gio Gonzalez’s September struggles (16 runs allowed in his last five starts) are something to monitor, but it shouldn’t take away from his great season. Plus, Tanner Roark is not a bad candidate to start a potential Game 4 at Wrigley Field (seven wins in his final 13 starts).

On the Cubs side, Jon Lester has the postseason track record. He has 2.63 ERA in 19 appearances and won three games last year en route to Chicago winning the World Series. But, he isn’t a lock for Game 1 because he’s only been off the disabled list for a month (left lat tightness).

If Lester doesn’t start Game 1, keep an eye on Kyle Hendricks. The 27-year-old right-hander had a 2.19 ERA over his final 13 starts and had a 2.83 ERA on the road this season. Plus, he has only allowed nine earned runs in five career starts against the Nats. His offspeed pitches can throw any team off balance.

Of course, the Cubs have their only injury issues as well. Jake Arrieta is not going to pitch the first two games of the NLDS and it is unknown if he will even get a start in the series. If he doesn’t, you might see Lackey get a chance.

With the injury issues the Cubs have in the rotation, that makes the trade they made for Jose Quintana that much more critical to their postseason chances. Since joining Chicago, Quintana allowed three runs or fewer in 11 of his 14 starts.

Advantage: Both teams have good starting rotations, so it is nitpicking here, but because of the dominance Strasburg has shown lately, the Nats get the edge. The edge goes to the Nationals, but keep an eye on where Scherzer and Arrieta pitch in this series.

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