2014 National League Division Series Preview: San Francisco vs. Washington

Fresh off a blowout of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Francisco Giants head to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Nationals, who were the best team in the National League. That’s all I got. Let’s get to the preview.

Starting Pitching

At the time I put these tables together, the Nationals had not announced their starters for the NLDS. Because of that, I included their top 4 starting pitchers according to fWAR, fully knowing that Doug Fister would probably be one of the starters in spite of the fact that he was their 5th best starter according to fWAR. Later in the day, it was announced that Fister would in fact start Game 3. Fister’s had a good year, with a 2.41 ERA, although his FIP is 3.93, worse than the four that are in the table below. As far as I know, there hasn’t been an announcement as to whether Gonzalez or Roark will be starting Game 4.


EDGE: Washington. The fact that the Nationals will be sending a 3+ win pitcher to the bullpen for the playoffs is kind of incredible. For comparison, the Orioles don’t have a SINGLE starting pitcher that produced more than Wei-Yin Chen’s 2.6 fWAR. The Giants rotation is decent, but outside Bumgarner, they’re average to slightly below average.


Top 3 relievers for each team (by fWAR).


EDGE: Washington. Based on these 3 relievers, it would appear that they are pretty similar bullpens, but cutting off the list of the top 3 does the Nationals bullpen a grave disservice. Jerry Blevins has been worth 0.9 fWAR in 2014. But the list doesn’t stop there. Rafael Soriano (0.9 fWAR), Matt Thornton (0.7), Aaron Barrett (0.6), and Craig Stammen (0.6) are right behind him. Granted it’s unknown if Soriano will be used much due to his late season struggles, but the Nationals will also have Gonzalez or Roark joining the bullpen as well. The Giants don’t have a dominant starter heading to the bullpen (no, Tim Lincecum doesn’t count), and for reference, Petit (San Francisco’s best reliever) has produced the same amount of fWAR as Washington’s Blevins.



EDGE: Push. These teams are pretty comparable offensively, with the Giants holding a slight edge according to wRC+. But as I stated prior to the NL wild card game, the Giants are missing Angel Pagan and Mike Morse, so despite scoring 8 runs on Wednesday night, their offense isn’t quite at full strength. They started Travis Ishikawa in left field for crying out loud! With Bryce Harper hitting much better toward the end of the season and a (somewhat) healthy Ryan Zimmerman back in the lineup, I’d actually give the slight edge to Washington.



EDGE: Washington.



EDGE: Washington. Based on these statistics, the Nationals are the better defensive team, however, keep an eye on how much Ryan Zimmerman plays third base. Putting Zimmerman at third and Rendon at second gives the Nationals their best infield defense in terms of range, but Zimmerman can get erratic with his throws sometimes, which could help the Giants get a big inning and steal one of these games.


Washington has the edge in every category here. I don’t see any reason why the Nationals should not win this series.


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