The Washington Nationals play their first playoff game in their second ever playoff series in franchise history on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium in Game 1 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Nats had the best record in baseball this year with 98 wins, and they are going to try to prove that they can get the job as the World Series winners. It’s going to take 11 victories to do that, and the man that gets the first chance to do that is Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez went 21-8 this year as a starter, and he led the team to a 24-8 mark in his 32 starts this year. He very well could be the Cy Young winner, knowing that he had a 2.89 ERA and struck out 207 men in 199.1 innings of work. What’s amazing to think is that Gonzalez came over from the Oakland A’s in the offseason. Imagine how good the Oakland pitching staff would have been had Gonzalez stayed in Oakland! Tyler Clippard is going to be under the gun as the closer for the Nationals, and he is going to have to get the job done in one of the toughest venues to pitch in the bigs if he gets his name called in the ninth inning of a close game.
The Cardinals didn’t have the best record in the world this year, but they were able to hold off the rest of the competitors for the last NL Wild Card spot. Then, they went on the road and did what they do best, win a crucial game in the playoffs to eliminate the Atlanta Braves. It seems a bit surprising that it is going to be up to Adam Wainwright to take the ball in the first game of this series after he went just 14-13 this year. However, Wainwright has a great history both as a starter and a reliever here in the playoffs, and his splits weren’t as bad as his record this year. Wainwright had a respectable 3.94 ERA, and he had a K/BB ratio of over 3/1. He started against these Nationals just last week and threw six innings, allowing just one run to get the victory in a 12-2 romp.
This is a tough call of a game for sure. The Nationals are the hungry team and the rested team, and we think that ultimately, they’ll take the first game of this best-of-five, though we think that it is going to be a series that ends up going all the way down to the finishing fifth game. Washington 4 – St. Louis 2