NL Division Series Preview

Chicago Cubs vs St. Louis Cardinals All games on TBS

For the first time ever, one of baseball’s oldest rivalries meet each other in the playoffs for a trip to the NLCS.

The Cubs are ahead of schedule in their rebuilding plans to be perennial playoff contenders while the Cardinals are the veterans who are always in the conversation of playoff contention.

The only thing I know for sure is that at some point someone is going to get hit by a pitch. Hopefully unlike the Wild Card game it won’t turn into this.

Both teams have their strengths. The Cubs are the better road team, have the better younger talent (Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Anthony Rizzo), and have the better offense.

Cardinals have the better overall team pitching while the Cubs have Jake Arrieta.

For the Cubs to win this series, Jon Lester (who will probably pitch twice) needs to pitch like what his contract is worth. While at times he has shown signs of that, he is not the best pitcher on this team. Jake Arrieta is only available for game 3 and possibly game 5 in the bullpen (which I think this series will go to).

For the Cardinals to win this series, they need to score much more consistently than they have had all year. For a team that won 100 wins which was the most in the majors, they were one of the worst scoring teams in baseball ranking 24th (0ut of 30) with 647 total runs (averaging 3.6 runs per game).

Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are also big wild cards (no pun intended) in this series. If they play anything like they do when healthy, St. Louis will be a tough out. Wainwright will pitch out of the bullpen.

You also have to be concerned about the unpredictability of the Cubs bullpen which I have titled “bullpen roulette” since they are inconsistent depending on the day. You just don’t know what you get until you go to them.

Even Arrieta and Joe Maddon were honest in saying Wednesday they had no thought of using the bullpen. That is a telling admission that even the team knows the Cubs biggest weakness is their bullpen.

Since I am a rival of both teams, my heart says the Cubs because of the couple times St. Louis has broken the Brewers World Series dreams. My head says to go with St. Louis because you have to go with the team that always competes for a title, right? Brewers fans are split 50/50 on who they think will win this series and so am I.

Since I have to pick, and since all road teams have been successful so far in the playoffs for the first time since 1970, the slightest edge goes to the Cubs.

Cubs in 5

New York Mets vs Los Angeles Dodgers All games on TBS

East coast vs West Coast. Biggie vs 2 Pac, Atlantic vs Pacific, #1 Market vs #2.

Mets vs Kershaw and Greinke.

That is what I feel is the key in this series in a nutshell.

The Mets before the trade deadline had fantastic young pitching but could not hit to save their lives. They before the trade deadline were ridiculed for having both their 3rd and 4th hitter batting under .250 even to the point of sports writers suggesting that MLB should investigate them for not spending money on better talent.

Then the Mets had traded for Carlos Gomez, got mad it got linked to the media, claimed they never traded or were interested in Carlos Gomez, and ended up acquiring Yoenis Cespedes. The anemic offense got a huge lift and surged into the playoffs over favorite NL East pick the Washington Nationals.

The concern is that as recently as the 2nd to last game of the season, the Mets got no hit on their own field by Max Scherzer. The Mets will get that similar kind of pitching at least three times this series from Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Kershaw is quickly gaining the title of great pitcher in the season until the playoffs where he pitches like the Buffalo Bills teams of the early 90’s. He has something to prove. If this Dodgers team does not make it out of the Division Series, you also have to start questioning if Don Mattingly is the right manager for the job.

Saying that, I don’t think the Mets have enough offense to beat the tandem of Kershaw/Greinke 2 times over a 5 game series.

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Dodgers in 4

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