Hey guys! Like we did with the ALDS before this, it’s time to go back and look at who stood out, who disappointed, and most importantly who won each of the NLDS series over the past week. We’ll be looking back at how my predictions from a week ago fared and then we’ll take a brief look at what the NLCS Opener is going to look like on Saturday night (there will be a full length preview on that tomorrow). You know how we’re going to do this (although I really will try to be a bit more concise this time, I promise), so let’s not waste any more time!
Chicago Cubs (97-65) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (100-62)
Chicago wins series 3-1
After Game 1, I wasn’t sure what I thought. The Cardinals got a stellar start from veteran Jon Lackey (2H/1BB/5K/86P) who worked the first 7.1 innings before the St. Louis bullpen recorded the last five outs of the game all by way of the K to complete the shutout. Obvoiusly, the Cubs offense was lethargic that day, but the Cardinals’ didn’t look too sharp either. While they scored four runs, they only picked up six hits and walked once while striking out nine times. Three of the four Cardinals’ runs came in the eighth innings from homers off the bats of pinch-hitter Tommy Pham (solo) and rookie Steven Piscotty (2-run). While the Cardinals’ offense did pick up a bit in the rest of the series, even managing to score four runs off of Jake Arrieta in Game 3, the Cubs simply outplayed them in the next three games. The pitching wasn’t great for either side, and no starter made it out of the fifth inning in Games 2 through 4 except for the aforementioned Arrieta (5.2 innings in Game 3). The two home runs hit in Game 1 only foreshadowed how the rest of the series would go, but the Cubs had the advantage when it mattered. After failing to leave the yard in Game 1, the Cubs went on to hit ten dingers in the next 3 games, including an astounding six-homer performance in Game 3. Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber all contributed two homers apiece while Soler and Javier Baez led the team with four and three RBI apiece. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Baez was only in the lineup due to an injury to SS Addison Russell, who will also miss the entirety of the NLCS. Fortunately for them, however, Baez was 4-for-5 with a stolen base in Games 3 and 4. Chicago will need him to continue his strong play in the NLCS if they want to be at their best. Steven Piscotty continued his impressive play after hitting the home run in Game 1, finishing the series 6-for-15 with five runs scored, three HR, one double, and a team-high six RBI (nobody else had more than 2). Piscotty’s downfall, however, was that eight of the nine outs he made we via strikeout. Jayson Heyward also was solid at the plate for the Cardinals, amassing a .357 BA as well as hitting a HR and a double and walking twice against just two strikeouts. Interestingly enough, the Cubs struck out ten fewer times than the Cardinals in this series (38 to 48) despite leading the NL in K’s in the regular season, which is a promising sign. No pitcher for either team was particularly outstanding, but the Cubs did get a quality start from Jon Lester in Game 1 and relievers Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill and Pedro Strop looked pretty good, combining for 14 strikeouts against zero walks in their nine innings of work while allowing seven hits and and three runs (all earned, one run per pitcher). The Cardinals got good work from Lackey in Game 1 and Adam Wainwright looked sharp in three relief appearances, (5.1IP/3H/1R/1ER/0BB/6K) but the rest of the staff was just not too sharp and far too dinger-prone to hold off the Cubs.
Original Prediction: Cubs in 5
Result: Cubs in 4
New York Mets (90-72) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70)
New York wins series 3-2
The Mets did this one the only way they know how – with great starting pitching. Every starting pitcher for the Mets worked into at least five innings, giving the Mets a realistic chance to take home any of the five games in this series. If it weren’t for Terry Collins trying to destroy the Mets from inside in Game 2, the boys from Queens likely would’ve walked away from this series with a shocking sweep of the Dodgers. Instead, New York starter Noah Syndergaard was sent back out for the seventh inning after 97 pitches (according to Brooks Baseball) and allowed two baserunners following a leadoff strikeout. A pair of relievers combined to allow both runners plus another two Dodgers to score in the inning and the Mets lost. Game 4 was one poor inning away from being a 1-0 Mets victory, but instead the Dodgers knocked in 3 off of Steven Matz in the third and held on for a 3-1 win, sending the series back to Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers knocked in a pair in the first inning after the Mets fired the opening salvo of the night, but would fair to get anything else off of the trio of Jacob deGrom, Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia (who recorded his first-ever six-out save) and the Mets took the game (and the series) 3-2. Daniel Murphy was the star of the series and maybe more importantly Game 5, finishing 7-for-21 with a double, three homers, a stolen base, five runs scored and five RBI. Curtis Granderson also swung the bat well, racking up seven hits in 18 at-bats, including a pair of doubles. Granderson also knocked in five runs while walking three times against just one strikeout with a stolen base to boot. Justin Turner paced the Los Angeles offense with a Division Series-leading ten hits in 19 at-bats, including an astounding six doubles and four RBI. Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick hit the only homers of the series for LA and finished with five and four RBI respectively, while scoring four runs apiece. This series, as expected, featured a lot of good starting pitching on both sides. The duo of deGrom and Syndergaard were both solid and Matt Harvey gave a good start in Game 3 as well. The Dodgers’ dynamic duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke combined for 27.1 innings, 18 hits, 9 runs (all earned), six walks and 36 strikeouts in 4 starts, but each could only come out on top once (Greinke in Game 2, Kershaw in Game 4). Jeurys Familia was lights-out for New York, pitching in all but one game of the series and finishing with three strikeouts and no hits or walks in 5.1 innings while picking up a couple of saves.
Original Prediction: Dodgers in 5
Result: Mets in 5
So close! I had picked all of the winners of the Divisional round correctly up until last night’s Game 5 between the Mets and Dodgers. While Clayton Kershaw was better in this series than he had been in the past, the Mets’ starters were simply better as a whole and the Mets lineup got more key hits and home runs. This sets up an NLCS battle between two teams who both finished 17 games out of their respective divisions in 2014. Game 1 is in New York (despite the Cubs being 7 games better in the regular season… damn wild card) on Saturday night at 7:30PM ET and Jon Lester will square off with Matt Harvey on the mound. Tonight, though, we get Blue Jays @ Royals at 7:30PM ET with Marco Estrada facing Edinson Volquez in KC. Thanks for reading, check out my Twitter page tonight for everything ALCS, and as always – enjoy the game!
I am running out of creative ways to credit Baseball-Reference.com for the statistics on my articles. But here it is.