For my National League Divisional Series predictions I went all in on the Giants in order to stay true to my original World Series pick back from February. As I said, I went all in and I lost. I was correct about the Los Angeles Dodgers prediction though so I went one for two and now the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs are set to faceoff for the National League Championship Series. So with that being said, let’s get to the preview.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs
First and foremost, Clayton Kershaw is a freak of nature. The Los Angeles Dodgers won their NLDS series on Thursday taking three games out of five from the Washington Nationals. Clayton Kershaw started two games and appeared in three total due to the fact that he entered in relief for game five. In every single postseason game this year that the Dodgers have won, Clayton Kershaw has pitched and that is unbelievable. Kershaw pitched game three on three days rest and entered game five on one days rest totalling 110 pitches in his previous start.
It will be very interesting to see how the Dodgers set their pitching rotation for the NLCS because if Kershaw was able to start Game One on Saturday he could potentially start three games in the series all on short rest by also starting games four and seven. The pitching of the Cubs is also very formidable though and includes Cy Young candidates Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester and John Lackey.
Jon Lester is going to get the ball for game one and if Kershaw isn’t opposite him then it is a must win game for the Cubbies. I know saying that a game is ‘must-win’ for the team that totalled the most wins in baseball is a bit of a stretch but if Clayton gets three starts and goes 3-0, then in those extra four games the LA Dodgers just need one W.
Therefore, the Cubs need to capitalize on the days when Kershaw isn’t pitching. Clayton doesn’t have the best postseason track record and I realize that but the dropoff of starting pitching for the Dodgers after him is substantial so you need to prepare to get the dominate, best pitcher of our generation version of Clayton Kershaw.
The 9th innings should be no hassle for both sides since Chicago has left-handed fireballer Aroldis Chapman and Los Angeles has converted catcher but now world class closer Kenley Jansen. For the pitching advantage I’m going to have to side with Chicago, they have the quantity that the Dodgers lack. Both offensive sides are loaded, MVP candidates Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo will attempt to carry the Cubs while MVP candidate Corey Seager will look to break out of the funk he’s been in for LA. Chicago Cubs second baseman Javy Baez was the catalyst for the Cubbies in the NLDS and if he can keep playing the way he has been this NLCS could be a short series.
With that being said, the offensive advantage in the series is also going to have to be for the Cubs. As for the manager’s, they both are great in my opinion, but people seem to worship the ground Joe Maddon walks on even though he doesn’t have any World Series rings as a manager, only as a bench coach under Mike Scioscia in 2002. Dave Roberts is a relatively inexperienced manager but I really like what he’s done with Los Angeles.
The injury bug hit the Dodgers pretty badly this season but Roberts worked around it and here they are in the NLCS. Roberts has a World Series ring as a player too, he stole a base or two in the 2004 playoff run. Anyways, I’m giving the managerial advantage to the Dodgers.
Chicago Cubs X-Factors: Javy Baez and John Lackey
Los Angeles Dodgers X-Factors: Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw
Prediction: Dodgers over Cubs (4-3)
What did you think of my prediction? Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below, on Twitter @N2KSports or on Facebook at N2K Sports. Be sure to check out my past previews on the Wild Card, the ALDS, the NLDS and the ALCS.
P.S. Kershaw recorded his second career save during Game Five against the Nationals, the last time Kershaw recorded a save the catcher was…. Kenley Jansen. Jansen was the star of Game Five, he ate up extremely key innings late in the ballgame.
Cover Photo via Yahoo Sports
GIF via Make A Gif