NLDS Preview - Giants vs Nationals

San Francisco Giants tangle with Washington Nationals in the NLDS

By Ian Palmer

The San Francisco Giants earned the right to meet the Washington Nationals in a National League Divisional Series (NLDS) by shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-0 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on October 1. The game was a winner-take-all wildcard showdown. The Giants made the postseason by grabbing one of the two wildcard positions with their record of 88-74 in the NL West and finished the season six games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Meanwhile, the Nationals won the East Division quite handily by 17 games over the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets with a record of 96-66. The first game of the best-of-five series between the Giants and Nationals gets underway Friday afternoon, October 3 in Washington. The Nationals won the regular-season series between the two teams with five wins against the Giants two.

bet365 baseball betting lines:

  • Nationals are favorites to win the series at 20/37 with San Francisco at 33/20.
  • Nationals are also 9/5 to win the National League with the Giants at 4/1.

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San Francisco Giants vs Washington Nationals NLDS Schedule

Game 1 – Friday, October 3, San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals
Game 2 – Saturday, October 4 San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals
Game 3 – Monday, October 6, Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants
Game 4* – Tuesday, October 7, Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants
Game 5* – Thursday, October 9, San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals

San Francisco will go with Jake Peavy as their starting pitcher in game one and he’ll hope to replicate what Madison Bumgarner did to the Pirates on Wednesday. Bumgarner went the whole nine innings in Pittsburgh and produced a magnificent four-hit shutout. Peavy finished the season with a 6-4 record and a 2.17 ERA. The 33-year-old went 3-0 in September with an excellent ERA of 1.44.

Giants pitchers will need to throw strikes in this series since the Nationals batters are patient at the plate and walked 517 times this season, which was the third most in the league. San Francisco has a good starting rotation and they should be confident in their relievers too as the Giants bullpen ranked fifth in the league with an ERA of 3.01. Santiago Casilla has a 1.70 ERA in the month of September and Tim Lincecum has now been converted to a reliever 12-9 in 2014 with a 4.74 ERA. When it comes to batting, Brandon Crawford and Buster Posy are on a roll as Posey went 30 for 79 in September for a .380 batting average and Crawford batted .343 by going 24 for 70. Crawford also had a game-changing grand slam against the Pirates in the wildcard playoff game to seal the victory.

The Nationals are one of the most complete teams in the Majors. Their 3.03 ERA was tops in MLB and their WHIP of 1.14 was second best. They also ranked 11th in opposing club’s batting average at .244. However, manager Matt Williams hasn’t announced his starting pitcher as of yet. It should be either Stephen Strasburg or Jordan Zimmermann. Strasburg went 14-11 on the season with a 3.14 ERA while Zimmermann compiled a 14-5 record with a 2.66 ERA. In fact, look for Strasburg to start the game.

Strasburg was 3-1 in September with a 1.13 ERA and Zimmerman went 4-0 record with a 1.32 ERA. Since September 13, the Nationals starters went 13-0 with a miniscule ERA of just 0.88. But while Strasburg went 1-0 against the Giants this season his ERA against them in two starts was an inflated 5.40. Zimmermann was also 1-0 against San Francisco in one start and he struck out eight batters and gave up two earned runs in eight solid innings.

Washington’s offense was also quite impressive this season. They were third-best in the league in runs scored at 686, fourth in OBP .321, fifth in batting average at .253, fifth in SLG at .393, and fourth-best in OPS at .714. They managed to score 5.8 runs per game on average against the Giants in the regular season and hammered them 16-6 in their final encounter.

San Francisco Giants Team Leaders

Home Runs: Buster Posey-22
RBIs: Buster Posey-89
Hits: Hunter Pence-180
Batting Average (over 500 at bats): Buster Posey-.311
Pitching wins: Madison Bumgarner-18-10 (2.98)
ERA (over 70 innings): Jake Peavy 2.17 (6-4)

Washington Nationals Team Leaders

Home Runs: Adam LaRoche-26
RBIs: Adam LaRoche-92
Hits: Denard Span-184
Batting Average (over 500 at bats): Denard Span-.302
Pitching wins: Doug Fister-16-6 (2.41)
ERA (over 70 innings): Tyler Clippard-2.18 (7-4)