After just over six months of regular season major league baseball, we have now arrived at October baseball and by the end of October, the 2019 World Series champion will be crowned.
The Nationals host the Brewers with the winner flying to Los Angeles to start the National League Divisional Series on Thursday.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer will start for the Nationals against Brewers right-handed pitcher Brandon Woodruff.
Nationals postseason history
In 1969, MLB expanded to 24 teams and they added their first team in another country. That team was the Montreal Expos. Like most expansion teams, the Expos had a long period of mediocre play. It wasn’t until their eleventh season when they finally finished the season above .500.
In 1981, the Expos won the first iteration of the Divisional Series and they advanced to the National League Championship Series. The Expos three games to two games series win against the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies would be the only postseason series win in the franchise’s history.
The Expos would then take a two games to one game lead in the Best-of-Five series but their opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, came back to take the final two games in Montreal with Rick Monday’s ninth inning home run erasing the Expo’s hopes for a World Series title.
31 years later, having moved to Washington DC and changing their name to the Nationals, they played in their first playoff series since 1981. They didn’t get past the 2012 Divisional Series, losing three games to two games to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Nationals played in three other Divisional Series since 2012 and have lost each one. The San Francisco Giants defeated them in four games in 2014, the Dodgers beat them in five games in 2016 and then in 2017, they lost to the Chicago Cubs in five games.
Brewers postseason history
Like the Nationals, the Brewers entered major league baseball in 1969 as the Seattle Pilots. Almost immediately, the Pilots would move to Milwaukee and become the Brewers.
In their tenth season, the Brewers finished over .500 and then in 1981, they made their first MLB postseason. They would lose to the New York Yankees in the Divisional Series but then they made up for that in 1982 when they won the American League pennant and played in their only World Series.
They lost to their now NL Central opponent, St. Louis Cardinals in seven games and that would be their last postseason appearance as an American League team.
After moving to the National League in 1998, the Brewers have played in three postseasons, losing the Divisional Series in 2008 to the Phillies and twice in the League Championship Series, in 2011 to the Cardinals and last season to the Dodgers.
The Brewers won their season series against the Nationals, winning four games of the six they played. But now they will play one game with Max Scherzer on the mound against them.
It took me this long to mention the one player who won’t be playing, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich. Yelich was the one of the Brewers who has done well against Scherzer but of course, that won’t matter because he is out for the rest of the year with a fractured kneecap.
Scherzer faced the Brewers once this season back in May. He pitched six innings and struck out ten in a no-decision start.
Expect a lot of matchup pitching changes for the Brewers, Brandon Woodruff missed most of the last two months with a left oblique injury. He made two appearances in September, pitching two scoreless innings in each one.
The Brewers entered September bunched up with three other teams that were 3½ to 4 games behind the Cubs for the second wild-card position. They would then go 20-7 in September to pass all of those teams and clinch a playoff berth in the last week of the season. The Brewers were swept by the Colorado Rockies in the last weekend of the regular season, losing their chance to win the NL Central division.
The Nationals had gone 7-10 in September but then after September 18th, the Nationals won ten of eleven including eight straight games at home to finish their season.
Today’s Game Information
Time: 5:08 p.m. PT
Radio: Los Angeles - ESPN 710 AM - Jon Sciambi and analyst Jim Bowden on the call at 5:00 p.m. PT