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MLB NL Divisional Series Predictions

Christian De Block, Michael Seitz, and Tom Seipp take a look and preview the two National League Divisional Series.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres:

De Block: This series between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers is going to be a fun one to watch. The Dodgers have been the best team in the NL West for more than a few years, while the Padres are a young team who are ready to take down their divisional rival. Can Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado do enough to get this team back to the NLCS? 

The Padres have one of the best offenses in baseball, but the concern comes with their starting pitching. Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet were left off the roster for the Wild Card round against the St. Louis Cardinals. Reports have come out that Clevinger will start game 1 against the Dodgers, but Lamet has been left off the roster for this series. In 12 starts, Lamet had a 3-1 record with a 2.09 era, so his absence will be a major blow for the Padres. 

San Diego will look for guys like Jake Croneworth, Eric Hosmer, and Austin Nola to provide production with Machado and Tatis Jr. doing damage at the top of the lineup. The Padres scored 19 runs in the Wild Card round, and they will need to do more of the same if they want to get past the Dodgers. 

After acquiring Mookie Betts in the offseason, the Dodgers were picked by many to win the World Series this season. They also have one of the best lineups in all of baseball, and have the capability to put up runs in a hurry. Betts, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, and Max Muncy are a few of their most talented hitters who will play a big role in this NLDS matchup. 

From a pitching standpoint, future HOF Clayton Kershaw has been known for his bad performances in the playoffs, but silenced the critics with eight shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers in the Wild Card round. Walker Buehler and Dustin May are also starters who will look to give the Dodgers some quality innings.

While I think the Padres are one of the best young teams in baseball, Lamet not being available could come back to hurt them in this series. The Dodgers are hungry to win their first World Series title since 1988, and I believe they will take the next step in doing that. Series Prediction: Dodgers in 4

Seitz: The San Diego Padres came back from the dead against the St. Louis Cardinals to win their WIld Card Series. The Padre starting pitching was awful in both games one and two and it took the bats until the sixth inning of game two to finally wake up. San Diego scored nine runs in the final three innings to slug their way to a game two victory and were able to get nine shutout innings from an exhausted bullpen in game three to advance to the NLDS. The Padres are going to need to get Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger back if they are going to win this series. As of the time I am writing this, both players are questionable to play in this series. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to get a phenomenal pitching performance from Clayton Kershaw and their bullpen as they made quick work of the Milwaukee Brewers at Dodger Stadium. There is not much to say about Los Angeles other than the pure completeness of their team. The pitching is there with Buehler, Kershaw, and Dustin May and the hitting is there with Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers are a scary team and it will take a completely healthy Padres side to take them down. Prediction: Dodgers is 4

Seipp: The Dodgers can’t choke again, can they?

It seems like a real possibility with the announcement that Mike Clevinger is pitching game one for San Diego. 

The Padres have shown already this postseason that they have an effective bullpen, as they used nine pitchers for nine innings to shutout the St. Louis Cardinals in a winner-take-all game in the Wild Card series.  

This offense is led by superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. who wants to win badly with this group. The Padres and the Dodgers have some bad blood.

If the Padres are able to steal game one, they immediately set themselves into perfect position to take this Divisional Series from the Dodgers. 

That’s what they’ll do. Series Prediction: Padres in four.

Atlanta Braves vs Miami Marlins:

De Block: The Miami Marlins have never lost a playoff series in the history of their franchise. Will they be able to keep that streak going against their NL East rival Atlanta Braves? The Marlins are coming off a two game sweep of the Chicago Cubs, while the Braves pitching staff dominated the Cincinnati Reds by not allowing a single run in two games. Atlanta took six of the ten regular season matchups, so it will be interesting to see if guys like Max Fried and Ian Anderson are able to dominate the Marlins offense. 

For Miami, verteran manager Don Mattingly will be relying on pitching to win this series, especially with the loss of one of his best offensive weapons. Outfielder Starling Marte(who the Marlins acquired from the Diamondbacks at the trade deadline) was left off the NLDS roster after suffering a broken hand in the Wild Card round. His absence will be a big blow for the offense, but their pitching staff has enough weapons to win this series. 

Sandy Alcántara was acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals that sent Marcell Ozuna(who he will face in this series) back in 2017. He has yet to live up to the expectations, but he has shown signs of becoming an elite starter this season. In his first career postseason start, he dominated a Cubs lineup by going 6 ⅔ and only giving up one run. The Marlins also have young phenom Sixto Sanchez, who pitched five scoreless innings in a Game 2 win for the Marlins. If those two guys can provide quality innings along with closer Brandon Kintzler locking it down in the bullpen, this team has enough to beat the Braves.

For Atlanta, the depth of their pitching staff will be put to the test in this matchup with the Marlins. Fried, Anderson, and Kyle Wright are slotted in for the first three games of the series, but there are questions of who will start the other two games if we get to a fourth or fifth game. Those questions will put more emphasis on how potent the Braves offense needs to be to advance. Ozuna, Freddie Freeman, and Ronald Acuna Jr. will look to be major contributors at the plate. 

Although the Braves have some questions about their starting rotation, I believe their offense can do enough to get them back to the NLCS. Starling Marte not being available is a huge loss, but don’t be surprised if the Marlins keep their undefeated streak in the postseason going. Series Prediction: Braves in 5

Seitz: The Atlanta Braves have not given up a run in 22 innings this Postseason. Max Fried, Ian Anderson and the Atlanta bullpen did a masterful job of keeping the Cincinnati bats quiet. The Braves have been solid all season at the plate as both Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna have put themselves in the National League MVP conversation. Add a lightsout pitching staff to a deadly Braves lineup makes Atlanta a serious October threat. 

With their sweep of the Chicago Cubs, the Miami Marlins are now 7-0 in Postseason series in their franchise’s history. The Marlins were able to hold a loaded Cubs offense to just one run in two games and have played their way into the NLDS without a major star player. If I had to compare them to another team, I would say that the Marlins are like the poor-man’s version of the Tampa Bay Rays. I will be rooting for the major underdogs in this series, but I just do not see them defeating the mighty Braves. Series Prediction: Braves in 4 

Seipp: The Miami Marlins have never lost a playoff series, so that means they must win the World Series, right? Not exactly, but they have a legitimate shot to take down the Atlanta Braves. 

Sandy Alcantara, who has been fantastic all season, will go head-to-head against Max Fried in game one. If the Marlins are able to steal the first game, they have Pablo Lopez (124 ERA+ in 57.1 innings) and Sixto Sanchez (five shutout innings in Wild Card) lineup up for the next two games. 

When the Marlins have a lead after six innings, they’re 29-0 this season (postseason included). They’ll have to get their offense going early, as the long ball has served them well, especially in their Wild Card Series as both of their winning runs came from home runs. 

Like I said in the American League, it all comes down to pitching depth, the Marlins hold that advantage. Series Prediction: Marlins in five.

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