They had to wait a year, but the Dodgers can finally say, “Bring on the Cubbies!”
The Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS to set up a showdown with the Dodgers that starts today evening in Los Angeles. And I can guarantee you the boys in blue wouldn’t want it any other way.
After losing last year’s NLCS in six games to this exact team, the Dodgers have come back with extra motivation, which helped them achieve an MLB-best 104-58 record. But now that the Cubs are in town, the juices will be flowing even more.
The players and coaches would tell you that they wouldn’t have cared who won the series but deep down, last year’s loss still stings and is stuck in their head. They preferred Chicago and got them.
Last year the Dodgers were running on fumes by the time they got to the NLCS, and it caught up with them when they had to face the best team in the league.
In 2016, the Dodgers secured the number three seed with 91 wins and had to go on the road against the Washington Nationals to start the NLDS. They took Game 1, but the series was hard fought as the teams were evenly matched and went five. The Dodgers won Game 5 by a run, in what is the most stressful game I’ve ever watched.
The game became a bullpen one as both starters struggled and both teams had to use a plethora of key pitchers. It saw Dave Roberts bring in his closer, Kenley Jansen during the seventh inning. Jansen proceeded to collect seven crucial outs on a career-high 51 pitches before handing off to Clayton Kershaw for the two-out save.
After that, they were mentally and physically drained, but only had one full day of recovery, as they had Game 1 of the NLCS in less than 48 hours. They had to go on the road to face a superior 103-win team that had not won a championship in 108 years.
Oh, how things have changed. The roles have reversed. The Cubs secured the number three seed with 92 wins this year and had to start their title defense on the road at Washington. They won Game 1, but the teams were evenly matched again, and it went to another Game 5 in the nation’s capital.
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And it was another stressful one-run bullpen game that saw Joe Maddon bring in his closer Wade Davis in the seventh to record the final seven outs. And now they have less than 48 hours to recover before they go on the road to start the NLCS against a superior 104-win team that is in their own World Series drought, albeit not as long as 108 years. The similarities are uncanny.
This is the definition of a heavyweight matchup. Both teams are the best in the National League, from the second (LA) and third (CHI) biggest cities and media markets in the country and evenly matched.
Speaking of pitching, the Cubs will throw Jose Quintana Game 1 against Clayton Kershaw, as their pitching is a mess due to Thursday night’s game.
It won’t start to line up correctly until around Game 3. The Dodgers, on the other hand, have their rotation set up perfectly. That’s a benefit of sweeping your NLDS opponent. They have the pitching advantage right now and need to take advantage of it. The Dodgers can’t ask for any more than this. They have to capitalize.
This looks like the beginning of a new rivalry in baseball. The Dodgers are looking to win their first championship since 1988 and what way is better than avenging last year’s disappointment en route? It definitely won’t be the last time these two ballclubs faceoff in the NLCS, as both have the makings of dynasties.
But for now, the Dodgers are looking to even the score, and it could not have been scripted any better. All they need is the Hollywood ending.