If you were Joe Maddon you wouldn’t want to see Daniel Murphy in the Postseason either. Last time he did, Murphy went 9 for 17 (.529/.556/1.294) with a double, four home runs, a walk, and three Ks in four games against Maddon’s Cubs in the NLCS in 2015, in a four-game sweep for the New York Mets.
“I still wish he was a Met,” Maddon told reporters this week.
“There’s no question I do. He was so good a couple years ago, and he’s still good. He’s still very good. He’s outstanding.”
In the second year of his 3-year/$37.5M deal with the Washington Nationals, Murphy put up a .322/.384/.543 line with 43 doubles and 25 home runs in 144 games and 593 plate appearances in 2017, over which he was worth 4.3 fWAR.
“I think we’ve done a better job against him over the last couple years since he went over there,” Cubs’ Game 2 starter Jon Lester said this week.
Murphy went just 8 for 28 (.286/.333/.393) with two doubles, two walks, and two Ks in seven games against the Cubs in his first season in D.C. in 2016, and the infielder went 9 for 25 (.360/.429/.800) with two doubles, three home runs, three walks, and three Ks in seven games this season.
“I think what makes him even more dangerous now are the guys around him,” Lester said. “You think, ‘Hey I don’t want to pitch to [Bryce] Harper and this guy,’ and all of a sudden you’ve got first and second or second and third with [Murphy] up and he’s such a good contact hitter that it makes it hard to strike him out, it makes it hard to get those ground balls.”
“He’s one of the more dangerous hitters playing baseball right now,” Maddon said.
“We were just discussing the potential lineup construction for them and it’s just different.
“They have more guys that are more pertinent right now, so you just can’t tiptoe around different individuals. They’re a good ballclub, so you have to pretty much almost meet them head on and just try to make some better pitches.”
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo sounded equally impressed with the Cubs when he talked about the NLDS matchup with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning.
“They’re a great team,” Rizzo told the Junkies. “They’ve got star power, they’ve got a good lineup, they’ve got some speed, they’ve got some power, they’ve got some pitching and a good bullpen, so, hey, we match up great with them, they match up with us.
“Again, we fear nobody, but we respect everybody, and they’re a team capable of winning the World Series, but I believe wholeheartedly that we’re a team that’s capable of [winning] the World Series and we’re ready to tee it up and let’s go.”
Washington took four of seven from Chicago in the regular season, though each side was diminished in different ways in each time they met, with the Nationals splitting the four-game set in the nation’s capital and taking two of three from the Cubs on the road in Wrigley.
“We know who they are, they know who we are,” Rizzo said.
“They had advance guys on us for the last two weeks. We know their team. There’s so much video, and there are so many good scouts out there that are going to prepare them for the game, it’s all about the players executing, make your pitches, have your good at bats. We’ve got as much talent as anybody in baseball, it often comes down to your secondary players, the unsung heroes of the team. I think that our bench is going to play big in this thing, I think that our extra guys are going to be as important as our regulars, and I’m really looking forward to putting this 25-man squad up against the Cubs, and I think we’re the better team, and hopefully we’ll come out with a series victory.”