The Washington Nationals swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. If the Dodgers had won Game Five of the NLDS, they could’ve done the same.
The Dodgers matched up well with the Nationals thanks to similarly dominant pitching, even more powerful hitters, and a deeper overall roster.
For starters, the Dodgers have the same sort of pitching that the Nationals do. Not only did the Dodgers and Nationals go one, two in starter ERA during the regular season (with the Dodgers having the league-leading ERA), the teams each have similar starting pitchers on an individual basis.
Walker Buehler is very similar to Stephen Strasburg. Both have had incredible postseason numbers in their careers and in general. Strasburg’s 2019 postseason numbers (3-0, 33 Ks 1.64 ERA) and Walker Buehler’s (1-0, 15 Ks, 0.71 ERA) match up tremendously, and both have nasty curveballs that feed off of their powerful fastballs.
Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw are similar as well, less in their stuff profiles, but more in their makeup and in their sheer volume of postseason experience. In starting roles, both have performed similarly across their postseason careers, even if Kershaw’s most recent postseason relief appearance paled in comparison to Scherzer’s.
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On to Patrick Corbin, he compares very nicely to Hyun-Jin Ryu. Though Corbin’s pure stuff is considered to be better than Ryu’s, and this is reflected in the strikeout numbers, Ryu was clearly the superior regular-season pitcher, or at the very least the superior pitcher through the first half of the season.
Beyond the big three’s of each team, both have starters that they use out of the bullpen, and pitchers with solid stuff out of the bullpen, even if neither have elite relievers under their employ. Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill match up nicely with Anibal Sanchez, though Sanchez seems to have separated himself after his near no-no in Game One of the NLCS. All three are veterans with solid postseason accolades and strong stuff that can lead to plenty of strikeouts and scoreless innings.
Even more deep into the bullpen, Daniel Hudson and Joe Kelly are similar in that they are prone to spurts of mistakes but are generally able to get by on their strong fastballs, and Kenley Jansen and Sean Doolittle both have struggled mightily at times in 2019.
On offense, the Dodgers probably look even better thant the Nationals do against the Cardinals (at least on paper). The Dodgers have tons of left-handed hitting, and the Cardinals starting rotation is almost entirely right-handed, as is their bullpen’s best arms, while the Nats offense features Anthony Rendon, Treat Turner, and Howie Kendrick as three of the four centerpieces.
All told, the Dodgers and Nationals are so similar that there is a strong possibility that either team could have swept the Cardinals.