Dusty Baker learned the Los Angeles Dodgers would be Washington’s NLDS opponents when LA clinched the NL West earlier this week.
In six regular season matchups between the two teams, the Dodgers went 5-1 taking all three in Chavez Ravine and two of three from the Nationals in D.C.
Baker told reporters his team matched up well with the Dodgers in spite of the results this season.
“I think we match up pretty good against them,” Baker said.
“Anybody that’s gotten this far, there’s not much difference between the teams and talent. It just depends on who’s hot and who’s not, who gets the best pitching, who gets the most clutch hits and particularly two-out hits.
“Some of the challenges they present: They have a pile of left-hand hitters and powerful left-hand hitters and they hit the ball out of the ballpark.
“They’ve got a good team. They have a good bullpen. We haven’t seen [Kenta] Maeda yet, and so I’m not really thinking about them as much as I’m thinking about trying to finish strong and finish strong so we can get this home field advantage but also give my players a breather so they can be strong and healthy for the series.”
Gaining home field advantage would allow the Nationals to avoid potentially flying to LA twice in the NLDS, and get the Dodgers out of their home park.
“It’s something that it’s not necessary because you’ve seen sometimes the home field doesn’t really matter,” Baker explained, before home field advantage was secured.
“It depends who’s hot during that series. Right now the Dodgers are playing well and sure any time I can get home field advantage we’ll take it, especially since we don’t have to go back to the coast twice, let them come to us, and so right now we have the lead over them, so there’s no sense giving it up. Sometimes they can take it from you, but it’s up to us and it depends on how we play, and like I said, I’d like to finish strong, I always say that all the time, and we have a situation here where we’re at home and we have a chance to finish strong.”
The Dodgers were 53-28 at home this season and 38-42 outside Dodger Stadium after the loss this afternoon that officially gave the Nationals home field advantage.
With the win today, the Nats improved to 48-31 at home this season. Away from the nation’s capital, the Nationals finished 45-36.
Asked how he felt after clinching home field advantage in this afternoon’s win over the Miami Marlins, Baker talked about having Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS next Friday and Saturday in Nationals Park.
“I feel great,” he said. “Any time you get home field advantage, we get the first two games here, it could be very important. It’s not necessary, but I’d rather have it here than to travel out there. You don’t know how things will work out after this, and hopefully, we’ll keep that home field advantage.”
As for any concerns about the Nats’ injury issues, with Stephen Strasburg and Wilson Ramos unavailable, and Daniel Murphy (buttocks), Bryce Harper (thumb) and Jayson Werth (back tightness) all banged up, Baker said he doesn’t worry about things that he can’t do anything about.
“I don’t concern myself with things that are out of my control. That’s in their control,” he explained.
“You don’t have Ramos, you don’t have this guy, this guy might not be swinging well, this guy might not be healthy or whatever it is, I just have to manage around that. It’s not easy. I’d rather just have everybody healthy and have a set lineup and me just sit back, but I’ve never had that. It’s never been the case. So, I don’t expect it, I just burn the midnight oil sometimes and keep that pad by my bed and when I get a thought then I’ll I go with it.”
As he’s explained before, his best ideas come to him while he’s in bed. Will the 67-year-old skipper figure out a way to lead the Nationals past the NLDS for the first time since baseball returned to the nation’s capital in 2005?
• We talked about the Nationals and Dodgers’ NLDS matchup, Trea Turner being great and more on Nats Nightly: