Dodgers Roundtable: 2016 NLDS Predictions And Key Factors
Dodgers Roundtable: 2016 Nlds Predictions And Key Factors
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The National League Division series matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals is just their second meeting in the playoffs all-time. In 1981, the Dodgers eliminated the Montreal Expos from the NL Championship Series.

While the Nationals clinched home-field advantage for the NLDS during the final weekend of the regular season, they face multiple injury concerns. Daniel Murphy is attempting to return after last starting Sept. 17, Bryce Harper is bothered by a thumb issue and potential shoulder injury, and Jayson Werth was saddled by back stiffness.

Werth didn’t play in the final two regular-season games, though said his injury was minor. Washington is also without All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos, as he suffered a torn ACL during the final week.

Conversely, the Dodgers are healthy heading into the best-of-five series. The lone semi-question mark is Rich Hill’s blister(s), and inclement weather could throw a wrench in the Dodgers’ plan to start the southpaw in Game 2.

The Dodgers are favored in the series, which aligns with NLDS predictions submitted by members of the staff:

Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):

I have the Dodgers winning the series in four games. In Game 1 you have a classic pitchers’ duel between Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer. I think this game will ultimately come down to one clutch hit late, as we know that runs will be at a premium.

If I had to guess who that clutch hit is going to come from, I’m going to say Yasmani Grandal, who delivered on multiple occasions. More specifically, I believe he will hit a late, two-run double to give the Dodgers a 4-2 win.

Tanner Roark has nine starts of seven or more shutout innings this season, so I think that Nationals get a key Daniel Murphy hit in Game 2 and will be able to edge out the Dodgers, 2-1, to tie the series.

With Gio Gonzalez starting opposite Kenta Maeda in Game 3, we can expect the Dodgers lineup to have a much different look than the first two games of the series. Yasiel Puig will get the start against Gonzalez, and to me, Puig is the ultimate X-factor.

Look for him to get a big hit early in the game, fueling the Dodger Stadium crowd and leading the Dodgers to a 9-3 rout. I don’t think either manager will will bring back a starter on short rest for Game 4.

My X-factor is this game is the 20-year-old Julio Urias. He had two strong starts against the Nationals this season, and think he can have a third one if he channels his emotions. I think Baker will bring Scherzer into the game as a reliever as Joe Ross has not thrown more than four innings since July 2.

In what should be another low scoring game, the Dodgers will earn a victory behind Andre Ethier delivering off the bench.

Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel):

I believe Dodgers eliminate the Nationals in four games; winning Games 1, 3 and 4. I think this is the most complete team the Dodgers have ever had, and, if you read quotes from the players, the most unified team they’ve had in the past four seasons.

For all those reasons, I think the Dodgers will come out hot in Game 1, overcome doubt in Game 3 and cruise to victory in Game 4. The biggest key for the Dodgers is whether or not they can get the bats going.

If they get shutdown by Scherzer on Friday, then doubt creeps in (despite Scherzer being an elite pitcher). Ideally, the Dodgers scratch a couple runs off Scherzer, add one against the bullpen and ride Kershaw/Jansen to a 3-1 win.

X-factor for the series: Puig (who else?). At his best, Puig can be one of the most exciting and energetic players in the game, and someone a team can feed off in a deep playoff run. Since coming back from his demotion, Puig has (seemingly) been fantastic in every aspect. If he can stay hot and energize the Dodgers, watch out.

Matt Borelli (@MattDodgerBlue):

Game 1, I believe the Dodgers will win. Not only is Kershaw on the mound, but the Nationals are without the services of Wilson Ramos to go along with an injured Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper, who has struggled in a small sample size against Kershaw.

With Roark getting the nod over Gonzalez in Game 2, I feel more confident about the Dodgers leaving Washington D.C. with a 2-0 lead in the series. Regardless, Hill will be the X-factor for this contest.

If his blister problems have subsided and there’s no limitations, the Nationals will have to deal with two of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball on back-to-back days.

With the series moving to Los Angeles for Game 3, you have to like the Dodgers’ chances once again. Maeda posted better splits at Chavez Ravine during the regular season and there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t continue that trend.

If the series goes to a Game 4, I think the Dodgers will try closing it out with Kershaw on short rest (depending on his Game 1 outing, of course).

With Ross likely to start a potential fourth game for the Nationals, there’s no doubt the Dodgers would match up better, given that he’s a right-hander pitching on the road against the best pitcher in the world.

Jared Massey (@JarredJMassey):

Given that the obvious prediction is Game 1 will be a pitchers’ duel, it’s likely going to end up looking like a football score. Corey Seager comes up big, making up for last year’s disappearing act and leads the Dodgers to a resounding win.

Game 2 will be closer, though the Dodgers still come out on top. Nationals manager Dusty Baker’s decision to start Roark allows the Dodgers to jump out to an early lead, and Rich Hill goes seven strong innings for the win. Yasmani Grandal and Joc Pederson each go yard.

The Dodgers come home with a 2-0 lead but can’t close the deal, as Gio Gonzalez is left-handed and shuts the Dodgers’ offense down. Bryce Harper, facing a righty, clubs a pair of homers.

Game 4 sees Max Scherzer come out on short rest to face Julio Urias. Urias only goes four innings but allows just a single run to keep the Dodgers in the game.

Scherzer starts to labor in the sixth and gives way to the bullpen. The Dodgers tie it late and Adrian Gonzalez comes through in the ninth for a walk-off win, sending Los Angeles to the NLCS.