NL Wild Card Game Prediction

Brandon Woodruff (Milwaukee Brewers) vs Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals)

Offense: Advantage Nationals

The Nationals will enter this game with their MVP candidate Anthony Rendon while the Brewers will still be without Christian Yelich. Depth is the difference in these lineups.  The Nationals bring power and speed in nearly every part of their lineup.  

Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Adam Eaton and the aforementioned Anthony Rendon all have the ability to make an impact on the game early.  The Nationals speed is going to be the key to jumping the on top early.  Yasmani Grandal’s defense came into question last season during the Dodgers playoff run, his ability to help manage the run game. Grandal’s offense has overshadowed his defensive struggles this season, throwing out 27% of would be base stealers is solid, but his -.04  defensive WAR is a cause for concern. 

The Brewers miss Yelich, but they have found solid replacements for a short period of time.  Trent Grisham, Ben Gamel and a hot Ryan Braun has helped the offense.  Braun’s questionable status for Tuesday’s contest could be a crushing blow to an already limping offense.  

Bullpen: Advantage Brewers

The Nationals bullpen troubles have been well documented during the last few seasons.  Finding some stability towards the latter end of the season, Sean Doolittle moving into a set-up role as Daniel Hudson cemented himself in the back end. The Nationals may have found their answer at the end they still are playing from behind in the bullpen.  

The Brewers have shown that they are deep with bullpen depth.  The emergence of Drew Pomeranz as a weapon against either side of the plate gives them a pitcher that can cover multiple innings.   I would look to see Josh Hader enter the game in as early as possible if the Brewers are able to grab a lead.   Milwaukee has played this game before and will not hesitate to make a move when necessary. 

Starter: Advantage Nationals

Keeping this simple. Max Scherzer, when healthy, is the best pitcher in baseball.  Brandon Woodruff All-Star first half but was hampered by injuries in the second half. Both pitchers have great strikeout stuff, it’s Scherzer who will be looked on to take control of the game.  The leash for Woodruff will be very small, if the Nationals jump out to an early lead the rug will be pulled out from under Woodruff.  

The debate between whether Scherzer or Strasburg should start the game could be pointless, reports are saying that Stephen Strasburg will be one of the first to make an appearance out of the bullpen. Scherzer hasn’t been perfect this season but he will give them hard innings, lasting until the 7thwhere Washington will utilize their new bullpen pieces and strategy.

My Prediction

The NL Wild Card game has ultimately favored the road team since its inception.  Only two home teams have found their way into the next round. While history favors the road team the Nationals have been terrific at home in 2019 with a 50-31 record. The Nationals also come in hot winning eight straight games at home to end the season. 

Brewers Manager Craig Counsell has become the poster boy for utilizing every advantage his bullpen brings. While Woodruff is the starter, it would not be surprising to see Milwaukee make an early change to play the matchups against the dynamic Washington offense.

The Brewers went on an unbelievable run just to get to where they are, but they face a team that is simply better.  Max Scherzer will dominate an offense that is missing way too many key pieces.  Anthony Rendon will cement himself as the league MVP. The Brewers had a nice run and they are a nice story, I’m not betting against Mad Max in this situation.  Give me the Nationals 6-2.  

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