Sep. 26, 2016
Regardless who wins Game Five, the Cubs will win the National League
Thursday night’s Game 5 of the National League Division Series matchup between the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers will break the National League Championship Series drought for one of the teams.
The playoffs have been no stranger to either team in recent years. This is the fourth straight year in which the Dodgers have played in the postseason. The Nationals have also had success, reaching the postseason three out of the past five seasons.
Despite both teams having regular season success recently, they have not had much success once reaching the playoffs. If the Dodgers lose Thursday night, it will mark three straight years of being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
The Nationals are in a similar situation in which a loss for them would mean they have also been eliminated in the NLDS in their past three playoff appearances.
Whomever wins Thursday night will only be four wins away from playing in the World Series. Having the chance to move on to the World Series would be massive for both organizations.
Unlike the San Francisco Giants, who have won three World Series since 2010, neither the Dodgers nor the Nationals have that type of history. As storied and old as the Dodgers’ franchise is, it’s been 28 years since the Dodgers won it all.
It would mean even more for the Nationals franchise, one which has never appeared in the World Series, neither in Washington or in Montreal as the Expos.
To a team the like Giants, being eliminated from the playoffs this year is not the end of the world since they have had so much success. To the Dodgers and Nationals, they can’t give up these opportunities since no one knows when the next time they will be in this situation again.
The unfortunate part of all of this is in order to reach the World Series, the Nationals or the Dodgers will have to get past the Chicago Cubs. They had a historic ninth inning comeback against the Giants on Tuesday to win Game 4 of their NLDS and advance to the NLCS.
The Cubs not only are the best team in the National League, but the thirst to reach the World Series may be greater than any other. It’s been 108 years since the Cubs won the World Series and this year's team might finally be the one that has what it takes to break the curse.
It’s going to be tough for either team to defeat the Cubs. The Cubs will have home-field advantage in the series. Chicago will also be able to match up their rotation more easily than either team since they will have more rest. The Cubs will have two more days of rust.
They are going to have the pitching advantage in the first game since they will be able to start Jon Lester while the Nationals won't be able to start Max Scherzer and the Dodgers likely will not be able to start Clayton Kershaw because of they will have pitched too recently.
That’s not even considering their offensive advantage on both teams either. The Cubs scored 808 runs this year, finishing third in MLB in scoring runs, while the Dodgers and Nationals scored 725 and 763 runs, respectively.
To be able to play in the World Series, the Dodgers or Nationals will have to earn it. Winning an elimination game is never easy, especially given how similar the two teams are. Then the winner of the National-Dodgers game will have to face a rested Cubs team without home field advantage.
Maybe whomever wins Thursday night will be able to ride the momentum into Chicago, but the logical thought is that the Cubs will be representing the National League in the World Series this year.