Tha Sports Junkies 101

2016 National League Postseason Preview

National League Chris Kim via


National League Postseason Preview

With game 162 in the books, five National League teams move into the postseason. With a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants punched their postseason ticket as the second NL wild card team. They will face the New York Mets at Citi Field on October 5th for a one game series to determine who will play the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS.

The other side of the NL postseason bracket involves the Dodgers and the Washington Nationals. These two teams are both division winners and will face each other at Nationals Park on October 7th for the first game of the NLDS.

With the postseason picture set, we will take a look at the National League to see how these teams stack up against one another.


This one game wild card match has all the makings of being a pitching duel. The starters for the game have already been announced and it’s no shock that Madison Bumgarner will take the ball for the Giants while Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets.

“Mad-Bum” has been the ace for the Giants this season. He has a 15-9 record with a 2.74 ERA and 251 strikeouts in 226.2 innings. Bumgarner has thrown 4 complete games in 34 total starts. The Giants, who blew a big division lead in the second half of the season, are really lucky just to be in the playoffs. They would not be in the postseason without the stellar play of three of their biggest stars. Those stars are Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford.

While Posey has not had much of a power-hitting season, he still leads the team with a .288 batting average. He has only hit 14 home runs this season but has recorded 155 hits. This season has shown that Posey has traded some power in order to make more contact overall.

Brandon Belt leads the Giants with 17 home runs and a .394 OBP. Belt is not a typical power-hitting first baseman but does have the second highest offensive WAR on the team at 3.1. While he does not hit many home runs compared to other first baseman in the league, he does have 41 doubles which leads the team.

Brandon Crawford has 12 home runs and 84 RBI’s on the season. Those 84 RBI’s lead the Giants and his 2.5 offensive WAR ranks third among offensive players. Crawford and Belt share the same batting average of .275 but Crawford has struck out 33 fewer times than Belt.

Behind strong pitching from Bumgarner, this Giants offensive should not have to score a lot of runs. With Syndergaard pitching for the Mets, they may not get many chances to score runs. The Giants offense better make their at-bats count if they want to be successful against Syndergaard.

While Bumgarner has been the ace for the Giants, Syndergaard has been the same for the Mets. “Thor” has a 14-9 record with a 2.60 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 183.2 innings this season. The 24 year old Syndergaard has stepped up for the Mets this season as their rotation has seen many pitchers hit the DL with injuries. He was one of the Mets aces to start the season but that was when they had 3 or 4 aces in their staff; now they only have Syndergaard left to carry most of the load.

The Mets offense has not done much to help out their rotation this season. They rank 24th in runs scored, 26th in team batting average and 23rd in OBP. The only bright spot has been outfielder Yoenis Cespedes who has hit 31 home runs and driven in 86 RBI’s while hitting .280. There has not been much of a supporting cast for Cespedes this season but Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera have each hit 23 home runs. Cabrera also has a .280 batting average while leading the team with 146 hits.

With a one game matchup like this, picking a winner is so hard to do. This game will come down to the team that can hit better with runners in scoring position. There will not be many chances for either team to get runners into scoring position but whichever team can get hits in that situation will likely be the winner.

The winner of this game will face the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS.

This National League wild card game will be played on Wednesday, October 5th, 2016. It will be aired on ESPN but a start time has not been determined yet.


Much like the wild card game, game one of this series between the Dodgers and Nationals will be all about pitching. While the pitchers have not been announced, fans can assume that Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer will face off in game one.

Clayton Kershaw has faced some back problems this year which has knocked him out of the Cy Young talks. Due to his injuries, Kershaw does not quality for an ERA title because he has not thrown enough innings. If he had thrown the required amount of innings, he would’ve won the title. In 149 innings this season, Kershaw has posted an ERA of 1.69. Even though Kershaw does not qualify for personal awards, he can still shut down opposing batters in the playoffs. He has a 10.39 K/9 rate and a 0.72 WHIP.

Aside from Kershaw, the Dodgers have enough pitching to carry them through this series. With Kershaw likely to start game one, it would be a toss-up between Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill for games two and three. Maeda has 16 wins to go along with his 3.48 ERA and 179 strikeouts. He has kind of assumed the role of ace in the absence of Kershaw. Hill was acquired at the trade deadline in a deal with the Oakland Athletics. Rich made 14 starts for the A’s and posted a 2.25 ERA. He had similar success with the Dodgers this season as he made 6 starts for Los Angeles and posted a 1.83 ERA.

After Kershaw, Maeda and Hill, the Dodgers rotation gets a little thin. Rookie Julio Urias has made 15 starts for the Dodgers this season and could be an option for game four if the series lasts that long.

This Dodgers offense ranks right around the middle of the pack in runs scored (14th), OBP (18th) and slugging percentage (18th). Third baseman Justin Turner and shortstop Corey Seager have been the go to men for the Dodgers this season. Turner leads the team with 27 home runs and 90 RBI’s while hitting .275. Seager is not far behind Turner in the home run department. Corey has 26 home runs to go along with his team leading .308 batting average and 193 hits.

In addition to Turner and Seager, Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal are also having nice seasons. Pederson has 25 home runs while Grandal has mashed 27 bombs. Both of them have batting averages under .250 but have 40 doubles between them.

Opposing the Dodgers in game one will likely be Nationals ace Max Scherzer. He has a 20-7 record with a 2.96 ERA and 284 strikeouts in 228.1 innings. After Scherzer, this Nationals rotation doesn’t get much softer. Without Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark has stepped up in a very nice way. He leads the team with a 2.83 ERA to go along with his 16-10 record and 172 strikeouts in 210 innings.

The ideal situation for the Nationals would be to have Scherzer start game one with Strasburg and Roark starting games two and three. With Strasburg hurt and unlikely to play in the division series, they will have to turn to other options. A likely option for game three would be Gio Gonzalez. He has made 32 starts for the Nationals this season and recorded a 4.57 ERA in 177.1 innings pitched. While he his no Scherzer or Strasburg, he may be able to scrape together a good start or two in the playoffs. Other options for the Nationals in the NLDS would be Joe Ross and A.J. Cole. Ross has made 19 starts while Cole has made only 8. Ross has a much lower ERA than Cole and would likely get a start before Cole would.

This Nationals offense hangs right around the top 10 in the majors. They are ranked 9th in runs scored, 11th in OBP, and 12th in slugging percentage. Their attack is led by NL MVP candidate Daniel Murphy. He has 25 home runs, 104 RBI’s and a .347 batting average this season.

Murphy has stepped up for the Nationals this season while Bryce Harper is kind of having a down year. He is hitting .243 with 24 home runs and 86 RBI’s. While the 24 home runs are a good thing, the .243 batting average is far off what the expectations were for Harper this season. The Nationals hope that Harper can get hot and go on a tear in the postseason.

Danny Espinosa and Jayson Werth are having good seasons for the NL East champions. Espinosa has 24 home runs and 72 RBI’s while Werth has hit 21 home runs and driven in 69 runs. The supporting cast behind Daniel Murphy has been good but it took a hit when catcher Wilson Ramos tore his ACL in the final week of the regular season. Before his injury, Ramos had 22 home runs and 80 RBI’s to go along with his .307 batting average.

This series between the Nationals and Dodgers will be evenly matched in terms of pitching. Both sides have solid rotations 1-3 but the difference will come down to which team can push across more runs. The Nationals have a possible MVP candidate in Murphy to propel their offense while the Dodgers have young talent in the likes of Corey Seager.

Expect this series to be very entertaining and exciting.

Game one of this series begins on Friday, October 7th, 2016. It will be aired on FS1 and MLB Network but a start time is yet to be determined.