So far, MLBTR’s readers are 2-for-2 in picking favorites, having nailed the NL and AL Wild Card matches. Are we on to something here or is it just sample-size luck? It’s a fun exercise in any event, so let’s do it again for the two National League Division Series matchups that are kicking off this evening.
The Braves and Cardinals get things rolling with a game 1 duel between Dallas Keuchel and Miles Mikolas. On paper, this is a tight series. Both teams feature exceptional veteran first basemen (Freddie Freeman vs. Paul Goldschmidt) and dueling young aces (Mike Soroka vs. Jack Flaherty). The Braves have the flashiest single star player in Ronald Acuna Jr., but the Cardinals feature a broad and deep array of talent. Plus, the Braves are dinged up, having lost several key contributors and dealt with late-season health issues for Freeman and Acuna. While the Atlanta organization will call upon contributions from a variety of players added during the course of the 2019 season — including a trio of relief acquisitions and a trio of veteran position players acquired after the trade deadline — the Cards are rolling with a roster that didn’t feature any major outside, mid-season supplementation.
Who ya got? (Poll link for app users.)
It’s hard not to like the Dodgers’ chances at a third-straight World Series appearance, but in baseball the margins are thin and the bounces of the ball can be fickle. The reward for the outstanding pole-to-pole work from the Los Angeles club is a match with a talent-laden Nats team. These two clubs turned in an absolute barn-burner when they met in the NLDS in 2016. Both rosters feature star hitters, quality depth pieces, rotation aces, and …. highly questionable high-leverage relievers. That’s a formula for theatrics. If there’s a single clear advantage for one team, it’s probably the Dodgers’ far superior pitching depth, with the relief unit expected to be bolstered by several starting-capable hurlers. But there’s still a path for the Nats — if their three staff aces can fend off the Dodgers’ deep and balanced lineup and minimize the exposure of the ever-tottering D.C. bullpen.
Which team has the advantage? (Poll link for app users.)