After several months of regular season baseball, postseason baseball has finally begun. The first NLDS game this year is a contest between the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs and the Washington Nationals. Both teams won their respective divisions and have the talent to make a deep postseason run in 2017.
Unlike most game ones, both teams will not be using the number one pitcher in their rotations. Instead, both teams are using their second best starting pitchers to start game one. Within the last month of the regular season, both teams’ pitching aces got injured and will be unable to pitch for the first few games of the series. For the Nationals, Cy Young award candidate Max Scherzer injured his hamstring in his last regular season start and will have to miss game one despite his 16-6 record along with his 2.51 earned run average. For the Cubs, Jake Arrieta hurt his leg and has been rehabbing the injury for several weeks. According to Cubs managed Joe Maddon, Arrieta will not be available until game four of the series.
As a result, the starters for game one will be Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals and Kyle Hendricks for the Cubs. Strasburg had a phenomenal season and went 15-4 with an earned run average of 2.52 despite missing a small amount of the season due to an injury. Surprisingly, this will only be Strasburg’s second career postseason start. Strasburg missed both the 2012 and 2016 playoffs due to various injuries and only started one game in 2014 which he lost. As for the Cubs, Kyle Hendricka’ season was really a tale of two halves. Hendricks ended the first half of the 2017 season with a with an earned run average of 4.09 and a 4-3 record. However, in the second half of the season, Hendricks had an earned run average of 2.19 and a 3-2 record. Hendricks was a huge reason why the Cubs won their first World Series since 1908. In last season’s playoffs, Hendricks started five games and had an insanely low earned run average of 1.42. If Hendricks can pitch similarly to the way he did last postseason, expect the Cubs to draw first blood in this series.
As for the lineups, I have to side with the Nationals. Washington’s lineup has the perfect balance of power and speed. Leadoff hitter Trea Turner stole 46 bases this season and will be a huge threat on the bases for the entire series. The Nationals also have a trio of power hitters including Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman. All three of them batted over .300 this season and had over 20 home runs. If these three hitters get hot, there is no way that the Cubs can win this series.
As for predictions, I am going to side with the Cubs. Although the Nationals have home-field advantage, this franchise is known for choking in the first round of the playoffs. This team has not won a playoff series since moving to D.C. and now have to face the defending World Series champions. The Cubs have the playoff experience and the hotter starting pitcher in this contest. I expect Rizzo and Bryant to put the team on their backs and to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the series
As for score, I will take the Cubs by a score of 5-3.
Cubs vs. Nationals: Game Time, TV Channel & Viewing Details
Event: Cubs vs. Nationals
Date: Friday, October 6, 2017
Start Time: 7:30 P.M. EST
Location: Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
How To Watch Cubs vs. Nationals Live Stream Online
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How To Watch Cubs vs. Nationals NLDS On Mobile
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