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2014 National League Playoffs Preview

Although the Marlins fell short of a Wild Card spot, here we take a look at the National League Playoff matchups. The Giants and Pirates get things started in a Wild Card Matchup on Wednesday night.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

While the Marlins' season ended on Sunday afternoon with a 1-0 loss to the Washington Nationals, there is still a lot of baseball left to be played. Here we take a look at the National League Playoff games, which begin on Wednesday night with the Wild Card contest.

National League Wild Card Game: San Francisco Giants at Pittsburgh Pirates
When: Wednesday October 1, 8:07 PM EST ESPN
The Matchup:

For the second time in as many years, the National League Wild Card game heads to Pittsburgh. The Pirates were hoping to lock up the National League Central, but failed to do so, ending the season just a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

Madison Bumgarner will get the start for Giants, with Edinson Volquez starting for the Pirates. Both have been effective in 2014, with Bumgarner posting an 18-10 record and 2.98 ERA in 33 games started and posting a 13-7 record to complement a 3.04 ERA.

Both Pittsburgh and San Francisco have deep lineups, with Pablo Sandoval leading a Giants team looking to rediscover its postseason success, and Andrew McCutchen eventually returning healthy to keep the Pirates nationally relevant.

Look for both bullpens and benches to play a significant role, as both squad's have depth that they won't be afraid to use in a winner takes all situation.

Prediction: Giants def. Pirates 5-2

National League Division Series 1: Wild Card Winner vs. Washington Nationals
When: October 3-9 (games four and five only if necessary)
The Matchup:

As the Marlins saw throughout the 2014 season, and specifically over the last two weeks, the Nationals are one of baseball's most consistent teams. While they had outfield and injury issues throughout the course of the year, they are looking to win it all after winning the National League East.

Regardless of who they are matched up against, the Nationals have a rotation that can compete with the best in baseball. Stephen Strasburg finished the season strong, posting a 1.13 ERA in five September starts. Gio Gonzalezwould likely be an ace on many staffs, and Jordan Zimmermann no-hit the Marlins on Sunday. Doug Fister has been solid, and Tanner Roark has turned in 21 quality starts in 2014.

Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon have led the offense, with the contributions of Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche carrying the team into the postseason. Asdrubal Cabrera added depth to the lineup upon being acquired.

Washington can get into trouble if starters can't go deep, as their bullpen has been roughed up in the past. Drew Storen has had difficulty at times, giving the Wild Card winner an edge in the bullpen department.

Prediction: Nationals take series over Pirates/Giants in four games

National League Division Series 2: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
When: Oct. 3-9 (games four and five only if necessary)
The Matchup:

In what may be the more exciting of the two National League Division Series, the Cardinals and Dodgers are set to matchup starting with game one on Friday night.

Los Angeles is among the teams that gets the most national exposure, and with a large payroll and names such asCarl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers' offense hasn't been questioned much. Led by Clayton Kershaw, who will likely be the favorite to win the Cy Young and possibly MVP, Los Angeles' rotation has been quietly consistent.

Kershaw will oppose Adam Wainwright in game one of the series.

St. Louis is seemingly always in some way involved in the postseason conversation, and with a rotation that gained experience and lineup that knows how to manufacture runs, the Cardinals are rightfully confident heading into October.

Ultimately, it may take five games to determine the better of the two teams.

Prediction: Dodgers def. Cardinals in five games

As we head into the offseason, stay tuned to Fish Stripes for playoff news, trade rumors, and more!