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A Diamondbacks’ fan guide to the post-season: National League edition

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Let’s look at the eight teams to make the playoffs on the Senior Circuit

Cubs v Astros Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As we did yesterday with the American League, here’s our preview to the bumper bundle which is the 2020 post-season in the National League. It’s probably fair to say that most D-backs fans care more about the NL, being part of it. The competitors here are teams with whom we would typically (though less so this year, outside of the West) be facing more frequently, and the players on them are likely to be better known. There may not be much consensus about who we want to win the National League pennant this year. But there’s probably close to consensus about who we’d like to see eliminated... Ideally, swept out of the playoff inside the next 36 hours, please and thank you!

Let’s look at the participants from a D-backs’ fan perspective. Below, you’ll find a list of the wild card matchups (start times and coverage are for Game #1 - after that, you’re on your own!), and then information on each of the contenders, in descending order of their seeding.

NL Wild Card Series

  • Cincinnati Reds (No. 7) at Atlanta Braves (No. 2): 9 am (ESPN)
  • Miami Marlins (No. 6) at Chicago Cubs (No. 3): 11 am (ABC)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (No. 5) at San Diego Padres (No. 4): 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Milwaukee Brewers (No. 8) at Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 1): 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

The National League contenders

#1: Los Angeles Dodgers

  • 2020 record: 43-17
  • Pre-season projection: 3712 wins
  • Pennant odds: 7/5
  • D-backs used this year: A.J. Pollock

Yeah, yet another season where Pollock failed to play 100 games for his team... He has killed it for LA, batting .276 with 16 home-runs, tying him with Mookie Betts for the team lead. He was still only worth 0.6 bWAR though, as his defence stuttered. That’s the same as Tim Locastro, only costing about 30x as much. The Dodgers do look pretty good this year, with no obvious deficiencies. Which is why, it will be all the sweeter, when they crash and burn, as I fervently hope they do.

#2: Atlanta Braves

  • 2020 record: 35-25
  • Pre-season projection: 3312 wins
  • Pennant odds: 23/4
  • D-backs used this year: Jhoulys Chacin, Ender Enciarte, Dansby Swanson, Touki Toussaint

Can’t be many teams who won their division with the worst rotation ERA in the league, but that’s what the Braves did, with a starting ERA of 5.51. That’s the highest figure ever for a division winner, 0.60 worse than the next-highest for the NL, the 2007 Phillies. Outside of Max Fried and half a season of Ian Anderson, it was a complete mess in Atlanta, including Toussaint’s 8.88 ERA. But, hoo-boy: can they hit.

#3: Chicago Cubs

  • 2020 record: 34-26
  • Pre-season projection: 3112 wins
  • Pennant odds: 15/2
  • D-backs used this year: Steven Souza Jr., Ildemaro Vargas

The Cubs join the White Sox in the post-season, giving Chicago two teams there for only the second time since 1906, when they faced off in the World Series (the other time was rather more recent, in 2008). They’ve got there with pitcher (ERA+ of 113) rather than hitting (OPS+ of 90); outside of Ian Happ and Jason Heyward, this isn’t an offense which will strike fear into anyone. But Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks give them a very solid 1-2 punch.

#4: San Diego Padres

  • 2020 record: 37-23
  • Pre-season projection: 3012 wins
  • Pennant odds: 9/2
  • D-backs used this year: Abraham Almonte

Tied with Miami for the biggest over-achiever compared to the pre-season Vegas line, this was the year it all came together for the Padres. They had a win percentage 12 points higher than any other season in franchise history, and their Pythag was the best by 58 points. That ended their fourteen year playoff drought, and with the second-best record in the NL, are likely better than their seeding. The Angels and Dodgers were the only teams to beat them over this season.

#5: St. Louis Cardinals

  • 2020 record: 30-28
  • Pre-season projection: 3112 wins
  • Pennant odds: 18/1
  • D-backs used this year: Paul Goldschmidt

Based on the small sample-size of this season, Goldy appears to be quite better now. He hit .304, and his OPS+ of 142 is basically in line with his career figure (141). Like Pollock, the defense may not be quite there, but the Cardinals have to be rather happier with the extension. We’ll see whether the 39-year-old Adam Wainwright can propel them deep into the post-season, and how rookie left-handed starter Kwang Hyun Kim perfoms in the playoffs.

#6: Miami Marlins

  • 2020 record: 31-29
  • Pre-season projection: 2412 wins
  • Pennant odds: 16/1
  • D-backs used this year: Brad Boxberger, Jazz Chisholm, Starling Marte, Caleb Smith

On July 21, you could get 200-1 against the Marlins winning the National League - and those odds was before they had twenty players testing positive for COVID-19, including over half of their Opening Day roster. They then had to play 57 games in 55 days as a result. But somehow, here they are, nine wins from reaching the World Series. Would you dare bet against them, especially as the Marlins have never lost in the playoffs?

#7: Cincinnati Reds

  • 2020 record: 31-29
  • Pre-season projection: 32 wins
  • Pennant odds: 10/1
  • D-backs used this year: Archie Bradley, Trevor Bauer, Matt Davidson, Wade Miley

Bauer figures to be in the Cy Young mix, though the offenses he faced were almost all weaker than average. Amusing to see him re-united with Bradley, both having been picks by the D-backs in the first round of the 2007 draft (Bauer #3, Bradley #7). Maybe they’ll face #1 Gerrit Cole in the World Series? At 87, the Reds’ OPS+ is the lowest of any contender here - the same as the D-backs. But on their day, the pitching staff can shut down anybody.

#8: Milwaukee Brewers

  • 2020 record: 29-31
  • Pre-season projection: 3112 wins
  • Pennant odds: 16/1
  • D-backs used this year: none

I find myself in the difficult position of having to root for the Brewers this week, but when it comes to beating the Dodgers, I’m with Malcolm X: “by any means necessary.” This could be FedEx Braun’s last hurrah in Milwaukee, as the 37-year-old is a free-agent this winter. Outscored by 17 runs this season, it’s hard to see them being able to beat the Dodgers twice in Los Angeles. However, we can but hope. Go, Braun! [ack!]

Poll

Who do you WANT to win the National League?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Braves
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    Cubs
    (2 votes)
  • 28%
    Padres
    (12 votes)
  • 14%
    Cardinals
    (6 votes)
  • 23%
    Marlins
    (10 votes)
  • 11%
    Reds
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    Brewers
    (2 votes)
42 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who do you think WILL win the National League

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Dodgers
    (19 votes)
  • 10%
    Braves
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    Cubs
    (2 votes)
  • 16%
    Padres
    (6 votes)
  • 10%
    Cardinals
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Marlins
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    Reds
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Brewers
    (0 votes)
37 votes total Vote Now