CHICAGO CUBS VS WASHINGTON NATIONALS LIVE STREAM - The Nationals' quest for the 2017 World Series championship begins on Friday when they take on the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs in the 2017 National League Divisional Series. Watch CHICAGO CUBS VS WASHINGTON NATIONALS - NLDS WILD CARD Live Stream free online on your PC, laptop, Mac, I-pad, Tab, Ps4/3, I-phone Android or any other online device.
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The Cubs are trying to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since the New York Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000, and only one team since then - the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies - have returned to the World Series the year after winning. "There was maybe a little more pressure last year because you feel the weight of 108 years on your shoulders," Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant told reporters. "This year, it's not like it's different, we're here for one reason - we want to win the whole thing. Regardless if we won it last year or 108 years ago, it doesn't matter to us." Now it's the Nationals who are trying to get over the hump after being knocked out in the NLDS three times in the past five seasons. The franchise has not won a postseason series since it was in Montreal in 1981.
The Cubs announced that 27-year-old pitcher Kyle Hendricks will face off against Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals for Game 1 of the NLDS.
Before announcing Hendricks as their Game 1 starter, the Cubs struggled to set their postseason rotation. Jake Arrieta was ruled out of the Game 1 conversation because of his hamstring injury back in September. Jon Lester‘s struggles to throw over to first base have made him too much of a liability to give him the starting job. Lester had only recorded one pick off in 2017. This left Hendricks to take the ball in Game 1. The Cubs hope he can continue his postseason dominance.
Hendricks finished the 2017 season with a 3.03 ERA, but his success in the postseason last year earned him the nod to start Game 1 of the NLDS this year. Hendricks beat Los Angeles Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw to clinch the NLCS and send the Cubs to the World Series last year. In that series-clinching Game 6, Hendricks went 7.1 innings with six strikeouts and only allowed two hits. Chicago will be leaning on Hendricks’s postseason dominance as they look to go up 1-0 and steal home field advantage from the Nationals.
Strasburg will face off against Hendricks in replacement of Max Scherzer. Scherzer suffered his own hamstring injury during his last regular season start, which means he wouldn’t be available before Game 3 of the LDS round. Strasburg finished the season with a 2.52 ERA and 209 strikeouts. There is always a looming concern with Strasburg, as his health has been an issue. He’s only pitched in one postseason game, against the San Francisco Giants in 2014. Even though he lost to San Francisco, he was able to keep his team in the game. Through five innings, he gave up eight hits, but only allowed one earned run and a walk while picking up two strikeouts.
While we do have what appears to be a premier pitching match-up, this game should turn into a battle of the bullpens. With Washington’s additions of Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle, the Nationals have an advantage closing out games; the Cubs need to out-slug the Nationals if they hope to avoid the Madson-Doolittle duo.
While 31 runs crossed the plate between the two Wild Card games, expect the pitching to tighten up in the Division Series. Don’t be surprised if the Nationals take Game 1 at home.
Starting Pitching -
Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez form as dominant a trio of starters as the Nats have ever worked with, and there's nothing better than having strong pitching in October. Scherzer's hamstring will be a concern, even if he says he's fine.
Strasburg has been their best pitcher since the All-Star break, and went 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 40 strikeouts over 32 2/3 innings in September to earn his third career National League Pitcher of the Month Award. He also allowed just 19 hits and seven walks without giving up a home run in five outings in the last full month of the season.
Scherzer, Strasburg, and Gonzalez all ranked in the top-5 for ERA in the NL during the regular season as well.
The Cubs fell just behind the Nats in team ERA at the end of the season. The Nationals also rank eigth in walks, the Cubs 22nd.
What was once a glaring issue for the Nationals, is now a strength, finishing fourth in the NL in saves.
Still, the Cubs have a much better bullpen ERA, fewer walks, and a lot more strikeouts.
Sean Doolittle did win NL Reliever of the Month, and the additions of Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, along with Doolittle really improved a Nationals’ bullpen that was one of the worst in the league during the first half of the season.
Outside of those three pitchers though, the rest of the bullpen is far less reliable.
The Cubs bring a little more power in terms of home runs, but both are almost dead even in runs scored during the regular season.
Daniel Murphy finished second in batting (.322), while Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon also finished hitting over .300 ranking inside the top-15.
That Nats finished the regular season with the advantage in team batting as well.
Major disadvantage for the Nationals here. The Cubs won the World Series last year, while the Nats are still looking to win their first playoff series in franchise history.
Yes, they won their fourth NL East title in six seasons, but experience comes when the games get deeper into the postseason.
That Nationals haven't been there yet, and the Cubs have won it it.