Most epic NLDS matchup ever? Answering the big questions about Giants-Dodgers

Which workforce is best: the San Francisco Giants or the Los Angeles Dodgers? In case you’ve adopted our MLB Power Rankings, you’ve got seen them flip backwards and forwards, nearly all season lengthy, between the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in all of baseball.

The argument for the Dodgers? They’re the defending World Collection champions and are positively loaded with star energy!

The Giants? They held off L.A. and gained the division!

Whichever facet you are on, although, we’re about to search out out the reply — at the least so far as 2021 is anxious — as the 2 Nationwide League West powerhouses meet up within the NL Division Series after the Dodgers beat the Cardinals in a walk-off on Wednesday night time. As we get set for a sequence that can depart the victor as the favourite to win the pennant, ESPN baseball consultants Alden Gonzalez and Tim Keown break down what this matchup means and what every workforce must do to win — and provides their picks for who will come out on prime.

A 107-win workforce vs. a 106-win workforce — is that this essentially the most epic NLDS matchup ever?

Gonzalez: Put it this fashion: I can not think about how there might presumably be a greater one. Begin with the truth that this is among the most historic rivalries in baseball historical past, that includes two groups that had beforehand by no means confronted off within the postseason, then take into consideration the way it all ended — with the Dodgers surging down the stretch, combating fervently to chase down their ninth consecutive division title, and the Giants refusing to cede. The Dodgers went 43-13 after the beginning of August, but they made up solely two video games on the Giants. Wild.

Keown: This query is simply too limiting. Purely from a report standpoint, this might be essentially the most epic World Collection matchup ever within the 162-game period. Two groups have by no means exceeded 105 wins in the identical season — ever — which is a testomony to the abilities of those two groups and the futility of many others. Add within the divisional rivalry and the tight matchups this season (10-9 Giants) and the one downside with this sequence is that we do not get to see it play out over seven video games.

Is that this the perfect rivalry in baseball proper now?

Keown: I can solely assume you imply in addition to Dodgers-Padres? (Ah, reminiscences.) Proper now, there’s nothing that compares to this one. There are the historic and geographic features of the rivalry, certain, however there’s one thing extra elemental at work: The Giants have been crafted, at the least partially, by two folks (president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and supervisor Gabe Kapler) who additionally helped to plot the roster-building philosophy that has led to the Dodgers’ latest run of dominance. They usually’ve completed it in San Francisco in a short time and really equally, with an emphasis on depth and flexibility. These two groups have been so evenly matched this season, with so many incredible video games, that (once more) we deserve a seven-game sequence. Which jogs my memory: Is there nonetheless a dent within the floor in entrance of the Dodgers’ dugout the place Dave Roberts spiked his cap after Darin Ruf‘s (non)test swing?

Gonzalez: Ah, sure, the test swing. Loopy how the division may need been determined by that decision, or Sheldon Neuse not stretching on a detailed play at second base, or Mike Tauchman robbing Albert Pujols of a walk-off residence run. Heading into the ultimate regular-season sequence between these two groups, the Dodgers and Giants had not solely cut up their first 16 video games in opposition to one another however the mixed rating was 68-68. The Giants wound up taking two of three, however we deserve extra of those video games. The one factor which may have saved this from being the perfect rivalry going was that it grew to become a gradual burn. We anticipated that the NL West would come all the way down to Dodgers-Padres, and it appears as if most of America did not concede to the Giants being at that degree till the common season concluded.

The Giants will win the sequence if … ?

Gonzalez: Kris Bryant will get scorching once more. The Giants’ offense is not reliant on one participant, after all. Removed from it. However Brandon Belt‘s absence leaves a significant energy void on this lineup. And Bryant is very able to filling it. For the reason that begin of September, he is batting solely .245/.353/.347. However he can flip it on shortly. And he’ll must in opposition to a Dodgers pitching employees with an abundance of energy right-handed arms.

Keown: I am tempted to put in writing one thing facile like, In the event that they proceed to be one recreation higher than the Dodgers, however a five-game sequence shouldn’t be the identical as a 162-game season. To win three of the subsequent 5, the Giants want their beginning pitchers to go postseason deep — 5 to 6 innings — in every recreation. The bullpen has been phenomenal, and the cometlike emergence of 22-year-old nearer Camilo Doval provides them one other inning of depth, however it is going to restrict the early- to middle-inning variables if Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb and Anthony DeSclafani (presumably) can work their means by means of the Dodgers’ lineup thrice every. It is going to additionally point out a capability to maintain the Dodgers from rolling out four- and five-run innings, a specific specialty of theirs. Nevertheless: Even this prediction is squishy as a result of the Giants have gained video games so many various methods, and with so many various contributions (and contributors), that it feels pointless to get too granular about any of it.

The Dodgers will win the sequence if …?

Gonzalez: Kenley Jansen closes the door. Given how intently matched these two groups have been, it would really be that easy. The largest ripple impact of Clayton Kershaw‘s harm is perhaps that Julio Urias will stay a standard beginning pitcher within the postseason — he’ll take the ball in Sport 2 — and Roberts will not have the pliability to make use of him in that hybrid bullpen function he has thrived in throughout prior Octobers. Urias, in the event you keep in mind, recorded the final out of the World Collection final 12 months, not Jansen. Now, although, the ninth inning will belong to Jansen. He has had an excellent 12 months — 2.22 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 30.9 strikeout share — however two of his 5 blown saves got here in opposition to the Giants.

Keown: It is equally tough to be reductive on this facet, however Max Muncy‘s elbow harm throws an enormous shiny gentle on Cody Bellinger. He has been one of many worst offensive gamers in baseball, and he appears significantly inclined to swings of confidence. Muncy’s harm leaves Corey Seager because the Dodgers’ solely marquee left-handed bat in opposition to the Giants’ three right-handed starters (presumably Gausman, Webb and DeSclafani.) Granted, the Dodgers’ offense is nice sufficient on the prime and deep sufficient on the backside to resist an harm, even one this main. However Bellinger and his subterranean 45 OPS+ may find yourself taking part in first base, which additionally serves to degrade L.A.’s outfield protection whereas including one other pitcher-level hitter to the order. An alternative choice at first: Pujols, whose vary is roughly his wingspan and who stands an opportunity of turning into the primary participant in an NLDS to hit right into a 7-4-3 floor ball double play.

Is the winner of this LDS going to the World Collection?

Gonzalez: The Brewers had been my decide to win the World Collection, however then Devin Williams, one among their two most necessary relievers, broke his hand punching a wall. And one reliever often would not make that huge a distinction, but it surely ought to, given how good the Dodgers and Giants are. In brief — sure, the winner of this sequence goes to the World Collection — assuming the workforce would not fully exhaust its pitching simply to outlive what needs to be a remarkably shut LDS.

Keown: With out query. What’s wild about these two groups is how they have been compelled to play playoff baseball for almost half a season. How do you win 106 video games and end second? How do you win 107 and be pushed to the ultimate day? A method is by treating almost each recreation like Sport 7 — or, within the unlucky actuality of our present dialogue, Sport 5 — and alongside the way in which discovering out precisely what works and what would not. For this season at the least, these two groups have nailed down the system.

Prediction time! Who ya bought and why?

Gonzalez: I predict that the sequence can be determined within the fifteenth inning of Sport 5. And given how this matchup has performed out, I predict that no matter prediction one makes is certain to look silly in hindsight.

Keown: Giants in 5, largely as a result of betting in opposition to them this season, whereas in style, has proved to be each silly and unfulfilling. They win, no matter means they’ll, and scoff at your predictions. | Most epic NLDS matchup ever? Answering the massive questions on Giants-Dodgers


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