NLDS Review

Posted: 10/09/2014 by levcohen in Baseball

I did my ALDS review yesterday and today it’s time for the NLDS review. Like in the AL, the underdog won each of the two series’. Unlike in the AL, though, each series was won by a team that is no stranger to playoff success. In fact, the Cardinals or Giants will have been the NL representative for five consecutive years after this season. Let’s see how both advanced to yet another NLCS:

St. Louis Cardinals defeat Los Angeles Dodgers in four: How did the Cardinals win this series? Well, let’s start with the obvious: they pounded Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher on the planet. The Dodgers had to feel great about their chances with Kershaw and Zach Greinke starting four of five games if the series went the distance. Greinke did fine, but the Cardinals were again Kershaw’s kryptonite; a year after they knocked Kershaw and the Dodgers out of the playoffs, they bashed the Cy Young and likely MVP winner in game one to the tune of eight hits and eight runs, with Matt Carpenter’s bases-clearing double serving as the big hit. They beat Kershaw again in the series clincher, as Matt Adams’ three run homer in the sixth was all Shelby Miller and the bullpen needed. When you beat Clayton Kershaw twice, you have a pretty good shot at winning the series. Carpenter was just incredible in this series. He had six hits in his 16 at-bats, and all six went for extra bases (three doubles and three homers). Carpenter’s 18 total bases are 11 more than any other Cardinal and nearly a third of St. Louis’s 57. Remember, Carpenter didn’t have much success in last year’s playoffs (he hit just .217 with a .553 OPS in 73 plate appearances), so this must feel twice as nice for the third baseman. This was a series of timely hits for the Cardinals, who had nine fewer hits than the Dodgers and hit 47 points lower in the series. The difference? St. Louis left just 18 runners on base, while Los Angeles left 35 on base. In many ways, the Dodgers were unlucky, but the Cardinals always seem to make their own luck when October comes around. The Dodgers will be in the mix again next year, but this loss has to be very disappointing, because they seemed well setup to make a World Series push this season. They just happened to run into the juggernaut that is the St. Louis Cardinals, and actually probably would have won this series more often than not. But Kershaw was hammered in game one and the offense scored just six runs in the last three, so LA will have to watch the rest of the playoffs from home.

San Francisco Giants defeat Washington Nationals in four: The Giants scored just nine runs in this four game series, the same number as the Nationals. But they found a way to win three one run games, including the longest in playoff history in the 18-inning game two marathon. Like the Cardinals, the Giants live a charmed playoff life, and that was illustrated perfectly in game four, when they scored their three runs on a walk and groundout in the second and a wild pitch in the seventh to take a 3-2 lead they would never relinquish. This series win was not all luck, though. The rotation was terrific, especially considering that three of the games were started by Jake Peavy (33 years old), Tim Hudson (39), and Ryan Vogelsong (37). Those three combined to hurl 18 and two-thirds innings of two run ball against Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Gio Gonzalez, and that doesn’t even include Yusmeiro Petit’s performance. Petit, who started 12 games in the regular season, came out of the bullpen to hurl six shutout innings and pick up the win in the 18-inning game. The bullpen was also terrific, with just four runs allowed in 19 and a third innings. Ironically, San Francisco’s only loss came in the game that ace Madison Bumgarner started, although Bumgarner pitched pretty well, giving up just two earned runs. Just like the Cardinals, the Giants got the timely hits in this series time and time again, especially in game two, when Pablo Sandoval tied the game at one in the ninth with two outs before Brandon Belt hit the go-ahead solo homer in the 18th. They didn’t dominate the series, but they were good enough to win it against a team with far superior talent. Washington’s rotation, featuring Strasburg, Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Gonzalez, is arguably the best in baseball, and their lineup is deep enough that Bryce Harper somehow hits sixth most nights. But despite Harper’s best efforts, which included three homers and four of the team’s nine runs scored, the lineup was held to just 2.25 runs per game. In fact, when you exclude Harper and Anthony Rendon, the lineup starting went just 12 for 104. That’s where this series was lost.

My San Francisco-St. Louis and Baltimore-Kansas City predictions will both come tomorrow.

  1. quadrangular says:

    Go Giants!!

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