WASHINGTON — Going slightly against conventional wisdom, MASN color analyst F.P. Santangelo says it’s not the 92-win Cubs the Nationals need to worry about in the postseason, so much as the 81-win Dodgers.
Surely both opponents — each leading their respective divisions — could prove formidable, just as the Nationals, with 86 wins under their belts, should not be viewed as an easy out for either club.
“They’re playing their best baseball right now and that’s exciting,” Santangelo said of the Nats on 106.7 The Fan’s Chad Dukes vs. The World. “And, you know, you could get worried about [the] Strasburg injury, you could get worried about this, you could get worried about that. I think they’re set up to go deep into October.”
“And, Chad, like you and I were talking before I came on, I said if they beat the Dodgers, in my opinion, they’re going to the World Series,” Santangelo said. “I think the Dodgers are their biggest roadblock to accomplish what they want to accomplish.”
“They got swept by the Cubs in Chicago early in the year when the Cubs were white-hot and they could do no wrong,” he continued.
“They played them well every game. They beat ’em I think two-out-of-three here in D.C. The Cubs are great. Hats off. Respect. Mad respect. The Dodgers are the one I’m worried about. So if they get out of the first round, and, say they play the Dodgers, which is the way it’s shaping up, I think they’ll be in the World Series.”
To Santangelo’s point, the Cubs were 20-6 coming into their four-game sweep of the Nats in early May, and had won nine of their last 11 games. They had begun to cool off by the time they met the Nats in Washington in mid-June, when the Nats took two-of-three.
The Dodgers, however, have taken five-of-six from the Nats in 2016, though by a +5 run differential, those games have been relatively close. Only time will tell how the postseason shakes out, which means, as always, for the final results, you’ll simply have to wait and see.
Becoming more apparent are the Nats’ postseason chances. After Monday’s 8-1 win over the Mets, they hold a 10-game lead in the National League East and, with 18 games to play, their magic number to clinch their third division title in five years stands at nine.
As it stands, the Nationals would play the Dodgers in the divisional round, while the Cubs would face the winner of the one-game Wild Card playoff — either the Giants or Mets (the Cardinals are a half-game out).
In other words, there’s a very real possibility the Nats could put Santangelo’s theory to the test.