Ricky: Nationals in 5
When taking a look at this series, both of these teams appear to be pretty evenly matched. Both have good offenses, a strong starting rotation, and good closers at the back end of the game. However, there are a couple things that slightly tilt the series in the Nats favor.
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First, speed is going to play a factor in this series. The Nats have the ability to create runs via the stolen base. Trea Turner had seven steals against the Cubs in the regular season. Even without Miguel Montero catching for the Cubs, he’s going to get his fair share of steals. Don’t count out Victor Robles, Michael Taylor, or Brian Goodwin making an impact in that department as well.
Second, the Nats I think have the better bridge to their closers than the Cubs do. While Carl Edwards Jr. and Pedro Strop are capable of getting big outs, there’s something to be said about the way Brandon Kintzler and Ryan Madson have pitched in the seventh and eighth innings respectively. If Dusty Baker uses them right, they will play a big role this series.
Finally, despite Max Scherzer only being able to pitch one game in this series, I think he will save the day out of the bullpen in Game 5. He’s done it in the postseason before and that could be the spark the team needs to get them out of the first round.
Also, everyone’s favorite $1 million man, Adam Lind, is going to have a clutch pinch-hit in this series that decides a critical game. Expect to be on pins and needles for the entire series, but the Nats will win this series and advance to the NLCS for the first time.