Obviously, Game 1 of a playoff series is stressful. And the odds are overwhelmingly in the favor of the Dodgers. But boy, is it significantly more relaxing to start the NLDS having already dealt with a winner-take-all and only having taken one day off.
Here’s the latest from LA:
Stephen Strasburg is the best pitcher in the Nationals-Dodgers series. Get him the ball. (WaPo)
Strasburg, without question, has been the best postseason pitcher for the Nationals the last two times through. If they can use him in any situation while maintaining his health, they absolutely should – because otherwise, beating LA will be nearly impossible.
Behind the scenes of Stephen Strasburg’s first, crucial relief appearance (WaPo)
Erick Fedde knew he wasn't coming in anytime soon — but with Max Scherzer due up fourth in the fifth inning, he knew that Stephen Strasburg would get the call soon. He said it didn't feel different; everyone else knew otherwise — but it was the same old Strasburg as soon as he was out of the gate.
Game 2 starters for Nationals-Dodgers NLDS are undecided (WaPo)
The Nats can either line up Aníbal Sánchez for Game 2 or Game 4 — but the hypotheticals get more complicated as you start mixing and matching.
Nats waiting to see if Strasburg is ready to start Game 2 (MASN)
Just a reminder as the Nats line up Patrick Corbin for a potential game 5, this division series will be the first time he pitches in the playoffs.
Juan Soto’s dad was the best part of the Nats’ on-field celebration (WaPo)
"“They give me the love I need,” Soto said later, via NBC Sports Washington. “If I’m good, if I’m bad, they always been right there for me. They are everything.”"
Nats fan meme: This is no longer the ‘saddest man who’s ever lived’ (WaPo)
Sad Nats fan will be at Game 1 in LA wearing the same get-up. The good news: It's not an elimination game, so he won't be a meme for at least another few days.
Nationals-Dodgers NLDS preview: Can Nats keep up? (WaPo)
The Dodgers are beatable — but they're pretty close to invincible. The main question marks come at the very front and back of the pitching staff: Kershaw's fastball velocity is down, Buehler has been inconsistent, and Ryu struggled in late summer.
What Juan Soto's game-winning hit looked like from the Nationals Park crowd (WaPo)
The beer flew. The crowd lost it. The radio call was even better. What. A. Moment.
MLB playoffs: Dodgers, Nationals series is a loaded one (SI.com)
If the Nats ride their rotation, limit their bullpen use, hold Cody Bellinger, and somehow win a postseason series, they may win a postseason series. Wait, hold on.
Twenty-Seven Outs to Go: The Nationals Win a Thriller (Fangraphs)
An out-by-out analysis of the game, from Eric Thames' homer to Ben Gamel's game-ending lineout that could've been something more had it not been hit to straightaway center.
Analyzing Nats-Dodgers position by position (MLB.com)
Will Smith has more talent and a higher ceiling, but he lacks the experience of Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki. Anthony Rendon had a better year than Justin Turner, who was injured, second base is a question mark for LA, and most everything else save for Juan Soto is an advantage for LA.
Washington Nationals look to ride high against Los Angeles Dodgers (ESPN)
Even though the Nats lost a heartbreaker to the Dodgers in 2016, almost no one is thinking about that series — nothing has followed any familiar script all year, so why should this series?
Posnanski: Breaking down the greatest half-inning in Washington Nationals history (The Athletic)
"The thing that’s so remarkable about Soto is how calm he seems at the plate, how at home he looks there. He will not turn 21 until World Series time, but he has this way about him that reminds you not of other phenoms but instead of classy veterans who have seen it all. Confidence radiates off him. Soto stepped to the plate thinking only of driving a single into the middle of the field, and he fouled off a fierce fastball up in the zone, and his expression seemed to say, “Oh, please throw me another one of those.”
‘It’s a wacky game’: Inside the night playoff baseball was born again in Washington (The Athletic)
“In the playoffs, you have to get a couple lucky bounces,” said Ryan Zimmerman, the crusty veteran, the franchise’s first draft pick when it moved to D.C. and the man who had a clutch two-out flare before Soto’s big hit. “I’ve seen it the other way where the other team gets a couple lucky bounces go their way. It’s a wacky game. I’m just happy we got them tonight.”
Nationals, Dodgers big on rotation star power (MLB.com)
It'll be Buehler, Kershaw, Ryu and Hill — two pitchers the Nats have faced in October before — in a matchup of the NL's two best starting rotations.
Nationals Game 2 NLDS starter (MLB.com)
Max Scherzer won't be ready, but coming off of a relatively short outing, Strasburg could turn around on short rest for Friday.
Here's 'the skinny' on Nats-Dodgers NLDS (MLB.com)
Watch out for Kenley Jansen—who's struggled this year—and keep an eye on the Nats' lineup.
How the Nationals built their way to the NLDS (MLB.com)
"Perhaps what Nationals manager Dave Martinez deserves most credit for is that he did not make any major changes. Not when the team was the biggest disappointment in baseball, at 12 games under .500 near the end of May, and destined for a winter of change. He remained the same every day and did not do anything drastic to save his job, or panic to try and turn the season around. Instead, he trusted a talented roster to play to its talent level."
How Martinez's in-game decisions helped make win possible (MASN)
By getting just enough out of Max Scherzer—who, granted, was not at his best—Martinez maximized the innings Stephen Strasburg got to pitch while also pinch hitting for him at a crucial moment in the eighth, which somehow helped everything come together at once.