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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Closers: Sean Doolittle vs. Wade Davis

The ironic thing about this series is that both of the teams were in the running to trade for Davis this winter, but the Cubs ended up being the winners and they had to be happy with what Davis gave them in 2017.

In 59 games, the right-hander was 32-for-33 in saves, had a 2.30 ERA, and struck out 79 batters in 58.2 innings. Two pitches to watch in Davis’s arsenal are his cutter and curveball. According to Brooks Baseball, teams have a .180 average with 47 combined strikeouts against those two pitches.

Davis did save both games against the Washington Nationals this season, but he had a 6.75 ERA in those two games, so he wasn’t exactly unhittable. But, the only two players with hits were Stephen Drew (probably not on NLDS roster) and Michael Taylor.

Two names to watch against Davis in this series are Adam Lind and Matt Wieters. Since Davis was an American League starter at the early stages of his career, those players have large sample sizes. Lind is 6-for-22 with a home run and five RBI’s while Wieters is 10-for-27 with three doubles and four RBI’s.

On paper, it looks like a mismatch in terms of Davis being one of the great closers in the game, but don’t count out Sean Doolittle. After his first couple of outings with the Nats were shaky, he has been as reliable as can be.

Since being traded from the A’s, Doolittle went 21-for-22 in saves, a 2.81 ERA, and had 31 strikeouts in 30 innings. His fastball can get into the mid 90’s in velocity and teams are hitting .190 against that pitch with 28 strikeouts since he got to D.C. (Brooks Baseball).

If there’s one thing in Doolittle’s favor, it’s the fact that the Cubs haven’t seen him much in his career. The only two players with more than one at-bat against Doolittle for Chicago are Leonys Martin (1-for-8) and Ben Zobrist (0-for-3).

Advantage: One of the things to watch in this series will be how much Davis and Doolittle are used. Doolittle has only gone more than three outs once this year (April 18 against Texas) while Davis did it three times in September (five outs on September 21 against Milwaukee).

In the postseason, teams go to their closers earlier than they would in the regular season. The question will be when does Baker go to Doolittle if there’s trouble in the eighth inning.

When looking at these two closers, it is very close to decides who gets the advantage. However, I’m going to go with Davis because of his postseason track record (0.84 ERA in 23 games), which is better than Doolittle’s (0-for-3 in save chances, 4.00 ERA in eight games). It’s closer than people might think, but the edge goes to the Cubs. 

 

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