The National League Division Series Begins

When Madison Bumgarner is on his game he’s as good as any starting pitcher in baseball. He demonstrated that the other night as he shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild card game. Once Brandon Crawford hit the grand slam that game was over.

The bad news for the San Francisco Giants is that they no longer have their ace available to start the series against the Washington Nationals. Jake Peavy has been good, but after that the consistency of the Giants starting pitching drops off. In contrast the top four Nationals starting pitchers look solid. The Giants have also struggled to generate consistent offense ever since their leadoff man, Angel Pagan went down with an injury.

The Nationals offense led by Denard Span at the top is solid. Look for the Nationals in the League Championship series.

The two teams that met in last year’s National League Championship series the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers face each other in this year’s Divisional round.

However, there are some key differences from last season. Michael Wacha who came out of nowhere to lead the Cardinals the last post season, has struggled so much he won’t even start in this Division series. In 2013 the Cardinals led the National League in runs scored while this season they scored only 4 more runs than the last place Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers started the 2013 post season with Matt Kemp on crutches and when Hanley Ramirez had his rib broken by a pitch in the first game with the Cardinals, the Dodgers offense sputtered. This year the Dodger are second in the League in scoring and with a .300 hitter, Juan Uribe batting seventh in the lineup, the Dodgers offense is deep. The one advantage the Cardinals will have is a better bullpen. But on the days when Clayton Kershaw pitches, the Dodgers might not need that. I expect the Dodgers to change the outcome this year.

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