Cubs' Kyle Hendricks On Starting Game 1: 'Means A Ton' To Me

Depending on how the Nationals line-up, he could go up against Max Scherzer in Game 3. The Nats are good and this year they know it.

The 2017 Nationals are a different team than last year's team. Cubs manager Joe Maddon says the 27-year-old right-hander will start Game 1 of the NL Division Series against Washington on Friday. For that reason, if the Nationals can simply beat the Cubs in a best-of-five to reach the NLCS, the season will feel like a triumph. Other times, I think they will lose their fourth playoff series in six years.

Now free of everything that went along with the franchise's long championship drought, the Cubs are looking forward to putting their experience to good use. Despite totaling over 90 wins for the second year in a row, they are once again a 2-seed, due to the Dodgers' outstanding season. Chicago's pitching staff has been subpar by their lofty standards, but the Nationals can not sleep on playoff-tested veterans such as John Lackey and Jake Arrieta. Jose Quintana has been scheduled to throw a simulated game, but that could change as well. One wonders if the legal matters will end before they either repeat or succumb to the Nationals, another National League contender or a member of the American League's quintet of qualifiers. Washington finished with their second straight division title at 97-65 and with the best offense in the entire National League. Even with the return of strong players to the Nationals, the team will face some obstacles when playing this impressive Cubs team. But for game one, the likely Washington starter will be Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 2.52), who has been on a fantastic stretch the past couple months. No decision has been made about John Lackey, but he looks destined for the bullpen.

"We haven't confirmed (Strasburg starting Game 1) that yet", Rizzo said Wednesday as Scherzer played catch in the outfield as he copes with a tweak in his right hamstring. These two teams are very even and similar in style of play which will make this a must-watch match-up. But despite the ailments and the controversies, he has also been, when healthy, one of the best pitchers in baseball, making him maybe the most successful disappointment in baseball history. Chicago's starting pitching must be up to the task of slowing this offense early in the game to gain some momentum. "But he's certainly a capable No. 1 starter in the playoffs".

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The manager didn't list a specific instance, but he was part of a World Series champion in Anaheim as a coach in 2002 and took the Rays to the 2008 World Series.

While it had its downs, it also had its ups.

The Nationals and Cubs will be an interesting NLDS: The Nats are loaded but aren't at full speed. Cubs exceeded both those totals with 223 homers and 822 runs. In Bryce Harper's opinion, they're the favorites. After shocking the baseball world in 2012 with a league-best 98 wins, the Nationals were defeated in excruciating fashion by the St Louis Cardinals in the National League Divisional Series (NLDS), three games to two.

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