NL Division Series Preview

Story posted October 5, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Logan Bourandas

We’re one round deep in the expanded MLB playoff format, and over on the National League side, mostly everything went as expected. Three of the four series in the opening round ended with the higher seed moving on. The Dodgers, Braves and Padres all took care of business with the Dodgers and Braves recording the two-game sweep and the Padres winning in three. Then we have the Miami Marlins. Miami continued its impressive streak of never losing a playoff series in franchise history by sweeping the heavily favored Chicago Cubs.

As we move into the next round of the playoffs, let’s start out with those Marlins, as they take on the team that won the NL East this year in the Atlanta Braves. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was the 1997 NLCS when the Marlins won the series in six games and then went on to beat the Cleveland Indians for their first World Series victory in franchise history.

So far in these playoffs, the Marlins have relied on their pitching staff. The Cubs offense had struggled during the regular season, and those struggles continued in the postseason, as they only managed one run in the series. The Cubs’ core of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo didn’t even manage to combine for a single hit. Sandy Alcantara pitched 6⅔ innings, giving up one run in Game 1, while rookie Sixto Sanchez went five innings and gave up no runs in the clincher, as he outdueled Cy Young contender Yu Darvish.

The Braves arguably did an even better job on the pitching side. In a 13-inning Game 1, the Reds had multiple bases-loaded opportunities, but the Braves managed to shut out Cincinnati 1-0, despite the Reds recording 11 hits. Freddie Freeman hit a walk-off single for the win.

In Game 2, the Braves’ pitching struck again, as the Reds once again couldn’t bring in a run, recording only two hits in total. Without the incredible Trevor Bauer on the mound, Atlanta’s hitting returned to normal. After all, the offensive core of Freeman, Marcell Ozuna and Ronald Acuña Jr. has been one of the deadliest in the league this year with the former two entering the MVP conversation.

The other matchup in the bracket is another intra-division clash, as the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the San Diego Padres.

The Dodgers were arguably the hottest team in all of baseball when the playoffs began, as they entered with a season-best 43-17 record. The Dodgers simply overmatched the shorthanded Brewers in the first round, as Milwaukee’s offense looked lost with Christian Yelich out of the MVP form that we are used to seeing from him. Yelich had only two hits and struck out four times in the series. The Dodgers managed to ride the pitching duo of Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw to victory, with Kershaw in particular being impressive, pitching eight innings and recording 13 strikeouts.

The young Padres, on the other hand, had a hard time taking out a very experienced St. Louis Cardinals team that had come off of an NLCS appearance last year. The Cardinals took Game 1, as Chris Paddack failed to step up with the team missing starters Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet for the opening round.

But the Padres went on to win the next two games with one of the most back-and-forth outings we will see in this year’s playoffs in Game 2. The Padres overcame a 5-2 deficit as in the sixth inning, as Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado hit back-to-back home runs to take the lead. The Padres then rode that sixth inning momentum to a Game 3 shutout win, advancing in the process.

Regardless of what happens this week in the NL, we should be in for a good few days of baseball at the highest quality level.

Predictions:

Dodgers 3, Padres 1

Marlins 4, Braves 2

 

Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email lxb5412@psu.edu.