Nationals

Quick Links

NLDS 2017 Preview: Nationals vs. Cubs Predictions

NLDS 2017 Preview: Nationals vs. Cubs Predictions

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.

This marks the Nationals' fourth trip to the postseason since moving to the nation's capital over a decade ago, and the team is still looking for its first trip to the NLCS.

In order to do so, they will have to defeat one of baseball's best rosters, led by one of baseball's best managers in Joe Maddon.

Can the Nationals bullpen dominate in October like it did in September? Will the Nationals bats heat up like the first half of the season? How healthy will Bryce Harper be?

These are all questions that will be answered beginning on Friday.

But with the series still in front of us, we took the pulse of the NBC Sports Washington newsroom to see what people are thinking.

So here it is, NBC Sports Washington's 2017 NLDS Nationals-Cubs predictions.

RELATED: NATIONALS-CUBS TALE OF THE TAPE

NLDS 2017: Nationals vs. Cubs Predictions

Smokin' Al Koken (@RealSmokinAL)Assuming Scherzer is Scherzer for at least one start , I think the Nat’s combination of pitching and power will prevail . Fully understanding regular season results usually mean nothing once the playoffs begin, I do believe the Nats success in their August series at Wrigley will give the team a good vibe when they return to the ivy . And my series under the radar , X-factor hero will be Howie Kendrick . Nats in 5, beginning another 108 year championship drought for the cubbies. Prediction: Nationals in 5. 

— Joe Beninati (@JoeBpxp): I know this may sound familiar to DC sports fans, but I was hoping for a different NLDS matchup! Then again, I like seeing the would-be champions defeat the reigning champions somewhere along the road ... might as well be right off the bat! I am confident that the Nationals have the arms to get the job done, and this fall their bats will behave better. Prediction: Nationals in 4. 

— Rob Carlin (@RobCarlinNBCS) While the Nats finally addressed their biggest issue over the years by shoring up their bullpen, I’m still a “show me” type of guy.  I  can’t trust those guys under the lights of the postseason until I see it. For the first time in 100 years, we can say the Cubs have been there and done that. Add in Max Scherzer's injury & the fact Bryce Harper hasn’t played much the last few months, and I fear another early playoff exit in DC. PREDICTION: Cubs in 4.

— Julie Donaldson (@JDonaldsonNBCS): With the Nationals healthy (fingers crossed), Dusty Baker gets closer to his first ring against his former team. Prediction: Nationals in 5.

— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikNBCS): I’ve been saying for a couple of months now that the Nats, when at full strength, are the best team in baseball. They’ve got the offense. They're great in the field. And their one question mark — the bullpen — was shored up at the deadline. Bring it home, boys! Prediction: Nationals in 5. 

— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS): This is it. This is the year. No, not necessarily the World Series, but at least getting past the division series. Scherzer and Strasburg will be too much in a five-game series. But the bats need to show up. Prediction: Nationals in 4. 

— Chick Hernandez (@ChickAtNBCS): With Bryce Harper back in the lineup. the Nats get fresh legs and add depth to the middle of the lineup. The 1-2 punch of Strasburg & Scherzer — in whatever order — will have them steamrolling through the first series. Prediction: Nationals in 5.

— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS): The Nationals' lineup is stacked, and their pitching staff may be the best they've ever had, but after the All-Star break the Cubs scored more runs than anybody and had the best record in the NL. It's just a tough draw for the Nats. Prediction: Cubs in 5.

— Craig Laughlin (@Laughlin18): Here is my prediction. Blue Jays win it all!!! I have a great feeling about the Nats this season! They are ready to take the next step to win it all for our city. Will Bryce and Max be themselves ? If so, the pitching should be the difference. Predicton: Nationals in 5. 

— Michael Jenkins (@JenksNBCS): The Nationals finally pull it together and advance to the NLCS thanks to a stellar starting rotation and a bullpen that holds up just enough. Prediction: Nationals in 5.

— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir): The nation's capital does not do playoff sports very well, at least not recently. Will it change this year? It has to. The Cubs just got their world championship. Time for them to wait another 100 years. Seriously. I can't deal with anymore disappointment. Prediction: Nationals in 5.​

— Grant Paulsen (@GranthPaulsen)The Nationals have two ace-caliber starters, a revamped bullpen with three quality late-inning arms and one of the best lineups in baseball. Mike Rizzo has built a championship club and it will finally pay off with an NLCS appearances. Prediction: Nationals in 4.

— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS): Sure, I’m a little worried about Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Actually, you add those up and that’s a lot of worry. But even if they aren’t at the top of their games, there is still Stras, Gio, Rendon, Zimm, Murphy, and the rest. I look for Michael Taylor to play a big role in the Nationals’—yes, I’m going to say it—sweep of the Cubs. Prediction: Nationals in 3. 

Quick Links

Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

usatsi_10342243.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

Quick Links

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.