What a thriller of a NLDS we had. The Dodgers were the only team to sweep in the NLDS while the Cubs took it to Game 5 and came out on top in an exciting series with the Nationals. Once again we are here to break down the NLCS series and give you our thoughts and predictions for how things will go down.
As a recap for the NLDS, we had some very accurate predictions for these games. Our prediction for Game 1 of the Cubs vs Nationals was spot on, while our Game 3 prediction for the Dodgers vs Dbacks was as close it gets as we predicted a strong outing by Darvish and Greinke struggling with his control as seen in his 5 walks and 2 homeruns through his 5 innings that game.
As for this NLCS series, we all know how strong the pitching is for the Dodgers and that has not changed through the NLDS. We have also seen more offensive output from the Dodgers than originally expected which is a great sign for Dodger fans. Going into the playoffs we noted that the biggest concern for the Dodgers is their lack of offense. They proved that their regular season struggles have ended as they put up a combined 20 runs in their 3 games of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks. This feat is more incredible given the fact that the Dbacks allowed fewer runs than any other team in baseball other than the Indians and Dodgers.
Now they will be going up against the Cubs who ranked 7th in that department. The Cubs allowed 23 runs over 5 games in their NLDS matchup. This could spell trouble for the Cubs as they face off against the weaker Dodgers offense.
An eyesore for the Dodgers stat line is their pitching staff allowed 13 runs to score in those 3 games. A far cry from their NL leading 3.35 runs allowed per game this season. This all adds up to one of the most anticipated matchups of this year’s MLB playoffs. Will the Cubs pitching staff be able to right their course and hold the red hot Dodgers at bay? Or will the struggles of the Dodgers pitching staff be corrected and shut down the Cubs? Here’s what we think.
Game 1 is the only game in which any pitcher has been announced at the time of this writing. Clayton Kershaw is scheduled for the Dodgers, while the Cubs have not announced their pitchers yet, though it is expected that John Lackey will take the mound. It could also be Quintana, but either way this game will come down to Kershaw’s performance regardless of who the Cubs put out there. Kershaw continued his postseason struggles as he allowed 4 homeruns in the NLDS. In this first game of the NLCS, Kershaw will get back to form as he allows 2 or fewer runs over at least 6 innings. The Dodgers hitters will score just enough to secure the win. Game 2 will likely see Rich Hill or Yu Darvish vs Jon Lester. Lester has allowed just 2 runs in the postseason and will continue his dominance in Game 2 against the Dodgers. If Darvish goes up against Lester, then expect this one to be a great rubber match with a low scoring game with the Cubs scratching out the winning run late in the game. If Hill takes the mound then the Cubs will take an early lead and never look back. Both scenarios call for a Cubs win and series tied 1-1 going into Game 3. If Darvish pitches Game 3 then the Dodgers will take a 2-1 lead heading into Game 4. If Hill pitches Game 3 then the Cubs will have the 2-1 lead.
Game 1 – Kershaw vs Lackey or Quintana – Dodgers win
Game 2 – Yu Darvish or Rich Hill vs Lester – Cubs win
Game 3 – Yu Darvish vs TBA – Dodgers win OR Rich Hill vs TBA – Cubs win