The National League has played host to two very different division series thus far.
We’ll start out west, where the Dodgers have put themselves in excellent position to advance after taking the first two games of their series with the Diamondbacks. Try as they might, Arizona just can’t keep up with the Dodgers offensively, as L.A. has put up 17 runs through the first two games. It’s safe to say that this postseason version of the Dodgers is more representative of the first few months of the season, before things went south in August and September. Who can the Dodgers thank for their success thus far? You gotta give some love to Justin Turner, who drove in five runs in Game 1. In Game 2, timely hitting from across the lineup gave L.A. a lead it would not relinquish. This series heads to Chase Field on Monday, with the Diamondbacks needing a win to stay alive.
In the other matchup, we’ve seen some extraordinary pitching on both sides. The Cubs and Nationals, two teams known for their pitching prowess, have not disappointed through the first two games of a split series. In Game 1, the hero was Kyle Hendricks, who out-performed Washington ace Stephen Strasburg by giving up just two hits and no runs through seven innings of work. In Game 2, Gio Gonzalez and Jon Lester settled into a pitchers duel of their own, but soon enough, Washington managed to even the score with some much-needed power hitting. Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman both went yard in the late innings to propel the Nationals to a 6-3 victory, tying this thrilling series at one game apiece.
Here are some more quick thoughts on the action we’ve seen early on.
Yasiel Puig has flat-out performed for the Dodgers in their division series with Arizona, proving to be a catalyst for an already high-octane offense. Puig went 3-for-4 on Saturday in the Dodgers’ win, including a bloop single in the fourth that loaded the bases. Puig is 5-for-9 for the series as the action shifts to Arizona, but the change of scenery shouldn’t change Puig’s mentality at the plate.
Max Scherzer was, at one point, slated to start Game 1 for the Nationals. Now, he’ll be pushed to Game 3, as he continues to recover from a pesky hamstring injury suffered in his final start of the regular season. Washington likely would have preferred Scherzer had started Game 1, but since the Nats managed to split the first two games, they’ve got Scherzer on the road at Wrigley. Talk about a solid security blanket.